Salvage resection of advanced mediastinal tumors
The surgical treatment of locally advanced mediastinal tumors invading the great vessels and other nearby structures still represent a tricky question, principally due to the technical complexity of the resective phase, the contingent need to carry out viable vascular reconstructions and, therefore, the proper management of pathophysiologic issues. Published large-number series providing oncologic outcomes of patients who have undergone extended radical surgery for invasive mediastinal masses are just a few. Furthermore, the wide variety of different histologies included in some of these studies, as well as the heterogeneity of chemo and radiation therapies employed, did not allow for the development of clear oncologic guidelines. Usually in the past, surgical resections of large masses along with the neighbouring structures were not offered to patients because of related morbidity and mortality and limited information available on the prognostic advantage for long term. However, in the last decades, advances in surgical technique and perioperative management, as well as increased oncologic experience in this field, have allowed radical exeresis in selected patients with invasive tumors requiring resections extended to the surrounding structures and complex vascular reconstructions. Such aggressive surgical treatment has been proposed in association or not with adjuvant chemo- or radiotherapy regimens, achieving encouraging oncologic results with limited morbidity and mortality in experienced institutions. Congestive heart failure or impending cardiovascular collapse due to the compression by the large mass are the most frequent immediately life-threatening problems that some of these patients can experience. In this setting, medical palliation is usually ineffective and an aggressive salvage surgical treatment may remain the only therapeutic option.