OBJECTIVE: Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) represents at present the most suitable treatment of recurrent spontaneous pneumothorax. After three years we consider this interesting to draw up a trial balance of our VATS experience in comparison with the cases treated before 1991 with the classic thoracotomic approach. METHODS: We have considered retrospectively the results obtained in a series of 30 consecutive patients with recurrent spontaneous pneumothorax treated with VATS between November 1991 and August 1994 in comparison with those obtained in a group of 30 patients previously treated with a traditional thoracotomy. The groups have been selected in such a way that surgical indications, sex ratio, age and number of episodes were homogeneous. The parameters we have compared were the postoperative complications, the duration of chest drainage and hospitalization, the operating times and the relapses. Besides these technical parameters we considered the economic data too. RESULTS: On average drains removal occurred one day before in VATS-Group: the time spent in the Hospital was significantly shorter in VATS-Group, being on average 1 week. Short term complications may be considered similar in the two Groups. Prolonged air leaks occurred in 13% and 16% respectively. Emothorax requesting reoperation occurred in 1 case for each Group. One death occurred in thoracotomy-Group in an old patient presenting a severe chronic respiratory insufficience with exacerbation in postoperative time. We have registered 2 relapses after VATS and none after thoracotomy. CONCLUSIONS: The study has demonstrated the therapeutic efficacy of VATS and in the same time that in VATS the total economic cost is lower (22.7%) in comparison with traditional thoracotomy.
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