European Jounral of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery. 2008 Apr 29; [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Chamberlain MH, Fareed K, Nakas A, Martin-Ucar AE, Waller DA.

Department of Thoracic Surgery, Glenfield Hospital, Groby Road, Leicester LE3 9QP, UK.


Objectives: In the preoperative workup for radical surgery for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), mediastinal lymph node staging, diagnostic pleural biopsies and effusion control with talc pleurodesis are required. We present a new technique combining these objectives via a single cervical incision using the videomediastinoscope and demonstrate its clinical benefits.

Methods: Video-assisted cervical thoracoscopy (VACT) was attempted in 15 patients (13 male, mean age 57 years), who were potential candidates for radical surgery. Following conventional cervical videomediastinoscopy, a 5 mm thoracoscope was advanced into the relevant pleural cavity through the mediastinoscope via a mediastinal pleurotomy. Pleural biopsies were taken followed by talc insufflation and cervical tube drainage. The clinical outcome was compared with 26 patients undergoing a staged preoperative workup during the same period.

Results: VACT was successful in 10 patients (66.6%). In five patients (three right and two left), thoracoscopy was abandoned due to excessive mediastinal fat (1), thick pleura (2) and inability to enter the left hemithorax (2). Mean operative time was 71 (65–90) min and hospital stay 4 (3–7) days. One patient suffered recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy and one had persistent air leak. Ten patients subsequently underwent radical surgery. Time to radical surgery was significantly reduced by nearly 2 months in VACT patients (28 ± 17 days vs 87 ± 56 days, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: The benefits of this approach include reduction in postoperative pain, risk of biopsy site tumour seeding, and preoperative delay to radical surgery. VACT is feasible in right-sided mesothelioma but has not yet been validated on the left.

Keywords: Mesothelioma; Diagnosis; Staging