Background: Minimally invasive pulmonary resection has been shown to provide superior outcomes compared to open thoracotomy. We sought to determine if adding a robot to a general thoracic surgery practice would decrease the total number of open thoracotomy cases. Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) database from 2012-2017. We grouped patients before and after the date of first robot usage with the vascular stapler in pulmonary resections. We analyzed the number of patients who underwent either an elective thoracotomy or were converted to thoracotomy from a planned minimally invasive approach. Results: There were 389 patients who underwent pulmonary resection between the two time periods. There were 220 patients (56.6%) from 2012-2015 prior to the first use of the robot with vascular stapler and 169 patients (43.4%) from 2016-2017 after the addition of the robot. During the pre-robot time period, 194 of 220 cases (88.2%) were performed with video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) while during the post-robot time period, 118 of 169 cases (69.8%) were performed with the robot. A significantly higher number of patients (41 total, 19%) required a thoracotomy in the pre-robot time period compared to the post-robot time period (8 total, 5%, P<0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that adding a robot to the general thoracic surgery program could decrease up to 75% the odds of having thoracotomy [odds ratio=0.25 (95% CI 0.12-0.55, P<0.001)]. Conclusions: The adoption of a robot with a vascular stapler may decrease the number of patients who require a thoracotomy. Potential explanations include an improved ability to perform complex minimally invasive pulmonary resections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-153
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Thoracic Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Lobectomy
  • Lung cancer
  • Robot assisted thoracic surgery
  • Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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