Many of the modern masters of thoracic surgery were in Potsdam, Germany this June to discuss a myriad of topics in this year’s course until the heading of Troubleshooting. The lecturers included Dr. Diego Gonzalez Rivas, the inventor of the uniportal VATS technique, Dr. Alan Sihoe, a renown expert from Hong Kong, Dr. Timothy Yang from Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital, Dr. Marco Scarci, the creator of International VATS, and our host, Dr. Mahmoud Ismail. The course included both wet and dry labs so that surgeons unfamiliar with these techniques had an opportunity to apply what they learned during this and other sessions.
Transcervical Uniportal VATS
Noted surgeon, and acknowledged expert in the area of transcervical VATS, Dr. Zielinski of Poland also gave a presentation on the transcervical uniportal approach, which is performed in the anterior cervical (neck) area. Using this collar incision, Dr. Zielinski is able to perform uniportal VATS for thymectomies and mediastinal operations as well as some lobectomies (generally upper lobes) and lung resections.
Dr. Zielinski talked about the challenges for this technique as well as the indications/ contraindications and potential complications while presenting data on his latest series of 32 patients. He gave surgical tips and tricks for using the transcervical approach, and how to avoid the most common complications.
There was a full session on setting up a uniportal VATS program with multiple speakers – along with troubleshooting the most common mistakes that surgeons (and their staff and administrators) make while starting a new uniportal VATS. They also talked about addressing the learning curve and ways to avoid common mistakes that occur during this period.
Common Complications after uVATS
Dr. Stefano Margaritora talked about how to prevent, detect and treat common complications after uniportal VATS. Drawing on his experience with over 1250 uniportal cases, Dr. Margaritora discussed the most common causes of bleeding such as dislodgement of vascular clips, bronchial artery bleeding, bleeding from lymph node harvesting sites and bleeding from the chest wall. He discussed the best ways to address this, such as use of newer anti-sliding clips, and the use of energy devices (like harmonic scalpels) for vessel sealing.
The ways to anticipate and prevent prolonged airleaks was also reviewed. Using anatomic fissures often lessens the incidence of airleaks post-operatively. The prevention of subcuatneous emphysema, as well as the relatively rare complication of lung hernia was addressed. Both of these complications can be reduced by meticulous and tight closure of the fascia at the conclusion of this procedure.
Using a serratus/ intercostal nerve block during this procedure is recommended to help reduce post-operative pain.
Dr. Firas Abu Ar spoke at several sessions – on both the use of uniportal VATS in pediatric patients as well as a case presentation on hydatid cysts. (Thoracics.org is planning to present this case study at a later date).
There was a session on robotic VATs but with the exception of a discussion of preliminary trials of a robotic instrument that allows for uniportal VATS, most of the information has been presented on previous occasions.
The state of evidence for Uniportal VATS
Dr. Alan Sihoe gave an excellent presentation on the need more more randomized studies, and higher level evidence. “The time for case presentations on uniportal VATS is over.” As the leading academic researcher at this conference (as well as an active, practicing uniportal surgeon), and editor of multiple journals, Dr. Sihoe reminded attendees that as uniportal vats use continues to grow, and becomes a more common procedure, the types of articles surrounding the procedure need to advance as well. It’s no longer sufficient to submit papers like case reports where the purpose of the paper is to explain the procedure, and basically say, “look at this cool case I did.” Surgeons need to move beyond these sophomoric writings to produce high quality, high value papers that add to the body of scientific literature around uniportal VATS. He then gave the audience specific, helpful guidelines and advice on designing, writing and submitting articles for publication.
After the didactic portion was completed, there were two live cases streamed from the local hospital for surgeons to review along with the dry and wet labs.
Note to readers: This will be the last article on uniportal VATS training. This topic has been extensively covered thru this and other posts here at thoracics.org. For more information on the essentials of uniportal VATS training, please review our archives under meetings and conference coverage.
Eckland K, Gonzalez-Rivas D. (2016). Teaching uniportal VATS in Coruña. J Vis Surg. 2016 Mar 11;2:42. doi: 10.21037/jovs.2016.02.25. eCollection 2016. PMID:29078470