Ribcage kinematics during exercise justifies thoracoscopic versus postero-lateral thoracotomy lobectomy prompt recovery

Antonella LoMauro, Andrea Aliverti, Melania Chiesa, Margherita Cattaneo, Emilia Privitera, Davide Tosi, Mario Nosotti, Luigi Santambrogio, Alessandro Palleschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: The video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) approach is encouraged over postero-lateral thoracotomy (PLT) for lobectomy in lung cancer. We compare the ribcage kinematics during exercise before and after both procedures, assuming that VATS, being minimally invasive, could better preserve ribcage expansion. METHODS: Thirty-one patients undergoing lobectomy by means of VATS (n = 20) or PLT (n = 11) were compared presurgery, after chest drainage removal (T1) and 2 months post-surgery (T2) during quiet breathing and incremental exercise. Spirometry, chest pain, ventilatory pattern and expansions of the ribcage (ΔVRC) and abdomen were measured. Furthermore, the expansion of the ribcage and abdomen in the operated (ΔVRC-OP and ΔVAB-OP, respectively) and non-operated (ΔVRC-NO and ΔVAB-NO, respectively) sides was also considered. RESULTS: At T1, in both groups, spirometry worsened and chest pain increased, being higher after PLT. Tidal volume (VT) decreased after PLT because the ribcage expanded less due to reduced ΔVRC-OP. Contrary to this, in VATS, there were no changes in VT and ΔVRC, although ΔVRC-OP was lower, because ΔVRC-NO increased at high level of exercise. At T2, ΔVRC-OP was completely restored after VATS. At high levels of exercise following PLT, although patients still showed reduced ΔVRC and ΔVRC-OP, VT was restored owing to increased ΔVAB-NO. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate VATS to have a reduced impact on ribcage kinematics while PLT induced restriction more markedly during exercise and still present 2 months after surgery. Patients adopt 2 different compensatory mechanisms, by shifting the expansion toward the contralateral ribcage after VATS and toward the abdomen after PLT. Our study justifies thoracoscopic lobectomy prompt recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1197-1205
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017


  • 6MWT
  • Chest wall
  • Dyspnoea
  • Opto-electronic plethysmography
  • VATS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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