Comparison of videothoracoscopy and axillary thoracotomy for the treatment of spontaneous pneumothorax.
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Surgical treatment of spontaneous pneumothorax can be done through a thoracotomy or a video-thoracoscopic approach. Although the videothoracoscopic technique is currently popular it is not obviously superior to a more traditional axillary thoracotomy approach. We compared our recent experience with both techniques to determine the optimal surgical treatment for spontaneous pneumothoraces. A retrospective review of 79 patients treated surgically (34 thoracotomy and 45 thoracoscopy) for spontaneous pneumothoraces was done. Patients were treated between 1991 and 1997. Patients older than 60 years of age and those with spontaneous pneumothoraces secondary to generalized pulmonary emphysema were excluded. There were no operative deaths. Recurrence rate [thoracotomy, two of 34; thoracoscopy, three of 45 (P < 0.89)], air leak exceeding 7 days [thoracotomy, three of 34; thoracoscopy, three of 45 (P < 0.73)], operating room times [thoracotomy, 54 +/- 26 minutes; thoracoscopy, 53 +/- 16 minutes (P < 0.59)], and postoperative length of stay [thoracotomy, 5.7 +/- 4.3 days; thoracoscopy, 4.7 +/- 4.4 days (P < 0.26)] were not significantly different for the two techniques. We conclude that axillary thoracotomy and videothoracoscopy are equally effective surgical treatments for spontaneous pneumothoraces. A large randomized trial would be needed to determine whether one approach is truly superior to the other.
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