Background Robotic-assisted thymectomy (RAT) is increasingly performed for resection of thymomas. Its application for large tumors remains controversial. In this study, we evaluated the safety and feasibility of RAT for large thymomas in comparison with transsternal thymectomy (ST). Methods A single institution database was reviewed for patients who underwent RAT for thymoma of 4 cm or larger between 2004 and 2016. Propensity scores were applied to match RAT with ST patients, based on age, sex, tumor size, and Masaoka stage. Perioperative outcomes were compared. Results Twenty patients (15 women and 5 men, median age 59 years) underwent RAT for a large thymoma (median size 6.0 cm). A right-sided approach was used in 14 patients (70%). A control group of 34 ST patients (median size 6.7 cm) had similar Masaoka staging (p = 0.64). Combined resection of adjacent structures, including pericardium, lung, and phrenic nerve, were frequently performed in both groups (50% RAT versus 47% ST, p = 0.83). RAT patients had lower blood loss (25 mL versus 150 mL, p = 0.001), were more frequently managed with a single chest tube (85% versus 56%, p = 0.027), and had a shorter median length of stay (3 days versus 4 days, p = 0.034). There were no perioperative deaths and no major vascular injuries. Three RAT patients (15%) were converted to open approach. Overall complication rates were similar between RAT and ST patients (15% versus 24%, p = 0.45). No difference was seen in R0 resection rates (90% versus 85%, p = 0.62). Conclusions RAT can be performed safely and effectively in a radical fashion for large thymomas. Future studies are necessary to determine long-term oncologic outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine