Comparative Study
Evaluation Studies
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Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery: is it a superior technique for the division of vascular rings in children?

OBJECTIVE: The use of video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is becoming increasingly common in the treatment of congenital heart defects, particularly for the division of vascular rings. We compare the short-term outcomes of vascular ring division by VATS as opposed to open thoracotomy and discuss new issues raised by VATS division of vascular rings.

METHODS: Over a 3-year period, 47 pediatric patients underwent isolated division of a vascular ring. We reviewed preoperative, operative, and postoperative data. For patients whose vascular ring contained a ligamentous or atretic segment, comparisons were made between operations performed by open thoracotomy and by VATS.

RESULTS: For the 47 patients, diagnoses included right aortic arch/aberrant left subclavian artery/left ligamentum arteriosum (25), double aortic arch/right dominant (19), and double aortic arch/left dominant (3). At the time of repair, ages ranged from 1.4 to 207 months (median 15.0) and weights ranged from 2.8 to 54.0 kg (median 11.0). The 29 patients with a vascular ring containing a ligamentous or atretic segment were included in the comparison between open thoracotomy and VATS. This included 25 patients with a right aortic arch, aberrant left subclavian artery, and ligamentum arteriosum, and 4 patients with a right dominant double aortic arch in which the left arch was atretic. Patients with patent rings requiring clamping and oversewing of the vessels were not included in the comparison. Thoracoscopic division was successful in 14/16 (88%) patients. There was no significant difference in the procedure time (P = .48) with the thoracoscopic approach. There were also similar times for intensive care unit stay (P = .25) and total length of hospital stay (P = .22).

CONCLUSIONS: The division of vascular rings by VATS shows similar outcomes compared with the open thoracotomy approach. It is expected that, with an increase in comfort level and further improvements in technology, the use of VATS can be extended to include patients with other congenital heart defects.

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