Minimally invasive thoracic surgery: beyond surgical access
Thoracic surgery has evolved throughout the decades. The difficulty of accessing the intrathoracic organs through the bony rib-cage has been a challenge for thoracic surgeons. In the past, large incisions stretching across the chest, such as posterolateral thoracotomies with rib spreading was the standard approach to access the lungs. These methods cause large amounts of trauma to the patient, with high rates of mortality and morbidity. However, with the advances in technology and the improvements in surgical technique, thoracic surgery has progressed to minimise trauma to the patient while still maintaining oncological and surgical principles. State-of-the-art technology, combined with wide variety of old and new surgical techniques give the thoracic surgeon a formidable armamentarium. Although there has been a focus on reducing the number and size of surgical wounds, considerations other than surgical approach can reduce the trauma suffered by the patient. Preservation of pulmonary function via organ preservation and anaesthetic techniques to further minimise the systemic inflammation such as non-intubated anaesthesia have also been shown to improve patient outcomes. This article aims to review the recent advances in minimally invasive thoracic surgery.