Objective: The objective of the study is to analyse the causes and impact of conversion from VATS to thoracotomy identifying any possible pre-operative risk factors and related consequences. Methods: Data from patient who underwent VATS lobectomy (VATS-L) for NSCLC at VATS Group participating centres were retrospectively analysed and divided in two groups: patients treated with VATS-L and patients who suffered from conversion. Predictors of conversion were assessed with univariate and multivariable exact logistic regression. Complications were evaluated as dependent variables of conversion in a Cox multivariable logistic regression model. Results: A total of 4629 patients underwent planned VATS-L for NSCLC and of these, 432 (9.3%) required conversion; the most frequent causes were bleeding (30.4%) and fibro-calcified hilar lymph nodes (23.9%). The independent risk factors at multivariable analysis model were sex male (OR 1.458, p < 0.01), age older than 70 years (OR 1.248, p = 0.036) and the clinically node-positive disease (OR 2.258, p < 0.01). The mortality rate was similar, but the percentage of patients who suffered from any complication (41.7% vs 24.4%, p < 0.01), the complication rate (65% vs 32.2%, p < 0.01), chest tube duration (p < 0.01) and the hospitalisation rate (p < 0.01) were higher for patients converted. Atrial fibrillation (OR 1.471, p = 0.019), prolonged air leak (OR 1.403, p = 0.043), blood transfusions (OR 4.820, p < 0.01), sputum retention (OR 1.80, p = 0.027) and acute kidney failure (OR 2.758, p = 0.03) were significantly associated with conversion at multivariable analysis. Conclusions: Conversion is associated with increased surgical morbidity, blood loss and hospital stay. Sex male, old age and the clinical involvement of lymph nodes were the strongest predictors of conversion.
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