Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery in Patients With Previous Sternotomy and Cardiac Surgery.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Innovations (Phila)


Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Cardiac Surgical Procedures; Female; Humans; Lung Diseases; Male; Middle Aged; Postoperative Care; Sternotomy; Survival Analysis; Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted; Treatment Outcome


OBJECTIVE: Although video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) lobectomy has become a standard approach for early-stage 1 lung cancer, concerns exist regarding potential damage to the heart or bypass grafts when VATS is performed after cardiac surgery via median sternotomy. We could find only case reports regarding VATS lobectomy after sternotomy for cardiac surgery. Therefore, we reviewed our series of patients who underwent VATS anatomic resections after sternotomy for cardiac surgery.

METHODS: Between 1996 and 2010, there were 87 patients who underwent 88 pulmonary resections after sternotomy for coronary artery bypass grafting (64), valve replacement or repair (12), coronary artery bypass graft and valve replacement (6), and transplant (5). There were 10 women (11.5%) and 77 men (88.5%) with a mean age of 76.2 years. Diagnoses included lung cancer (83), pulmonary metastases (4), and benign disease (1).

RESULTS: Dense adhesions between the lung and the mediastinum sometimes occur after cardiac surgery. Compared with the total series of 2684 VATS lobectomies, operations after sternotomy are associated with greater mortality (12, 0.4% vs 5, 5.7%), myocardial infarction (13, 0.5% vs 2, 2.3%), transfusion (45, 1.7% vs 12, 13.6), conversion to thoracotomy (188, 7% vs 14, 15.9%). Injury occurred to the left main pulmonary artery (1, 1%) and internal mammary artery graft (1, 1%). There were no intraoperative deaths.

CONCLUSIONS: Previous sternotomy for cardiac surgery does increase the risk for VATS lobectomy. Conversion to thoracotomy should be considered if dense adhesions are found. Techniques to reduce the risk for the heart are discussed.

Clinical Institute

Cardiovascular (Heart)