Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery to the upper thoracic spine

T. J. Huang*, R. W.W. Hsu, H. P. Liu, H. N. Shih, Y. S. Liao, K. Y. Hsu, Y. J. Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: The standard open technique for exposure of the upper thoracic spine, T1-T4, usually requires a difficult thoracotomy. From November 1, 1995 to June 30, 1997, eight patients underwent video-assisted thoracoscopic spinal surgery in our institute to treat their upper thoracic spinal lesions endoscopically. Methods: A new approach, the so-called 'extended manipulating channel method,' was used in this series that allows the combined use of video-assisted thoracoscopy and conventional spinal instruments to enter the chest cavity freely for the procedures. Patients' ages ranged from 44 to 89 years (average, 60 years). Definitive diagnoses included two pyogenic spondylitis and six spinal metastases. Five patients presented initially with myelopathy. Results: There were no deaths or neurologic injuries associated with this technique. The mean surgical time was 3.1 h. The mean duration of chest tube retention was 3.3 days. The mean total blood loss was 1,038 ml, and two patients had a blood loss of more than 2,000 ml owing to bleeding from epidural veins or raw osseous surfaces. Complications included one superficial wound infection and one subcutaneous emphysema that resolved spontaneously. In this seties, there was no need of conversion to open thoracotomy for the patients. Conclusions: The thoracoscopy-assisted spinal technique using the extended manipulating channels, usually 2.5-3.5 cm, allows variable instrument angulations for manipulation. The mean surgical time (3.1 h) was considered no longer than for an open technique for the equivalent anterior procedure. Such an approach can achieve less procedure-related trauma and has proved to be a good alternative to other treatment modalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-126
Number of pages4
JournalSurgical Endoscopy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 02 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Upper thoracic spine
  • Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery


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