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Papers of the Week

2022 Nov




A Comparison of the Differences in Postoperative Chronic Pain Between Video-Assisted and Robotic-Assisted Approaches in Thoracic Surgery.


Qsous G, Downes A, Carroll B, Rowe S, Manoj S, McFadyen R, Korelidis G, Tolan M, Healy DG
Cureus. 2022 Nov; 14(11):e31688.
PMID: 36561601.


Background and objective In the last decade, there has been significant evolution in thoracic surgery with the advent of robotic surgery. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the incidence of postoperative chronic pain (for six months and beyond) in robotic and video-assisted approaches to analyze the long-term effects of the two different techniques. Methods This was a retrospective study involving 92 patients who underwent various thoracic operations between six months and two years preceding the study. Patients were classified into two groups based on the type of surgery: video-assisted (VATS) (n=51), and robotic-assisted (RATS) (n=41) thoracoscopic Surgery. We employed the EuroQol (EQ-5D-5L) questionnaire to assess the utility values in terms of five quality-of-life measures (self-care, pain/discomfort, mobility, anxiety/depression, and usual activities). Results In the VATS group, the median age was 68 years while it was 57 years in the RATS group (p=0.001). A higher proportion of patients in the VATS group had anatomical lung resection (lobectomy) compared to the RATS group: 61.2 vs. 41.6% respectively (p=0.005). However, the groups were well-matched on other patient characteristics such as relevant past medical history, underlying disease pathology, and final disease staging (if malignant), with no significant differences between groups observed regarding these traits. In the VATS group, 62.7% of patients were pain-free at the time of the questionnaire-based evaluation compared to 51.2% in the RATS group. Additionally, 25.5% vs. 39% of patients had mild pain in the VATS and RATS groups respectively. Neither of these differences was statistically significant. Conclusion Patients who undergo RATS are known to have better recovery and less pain compared to those who have VATS in the immediate postoperative period. However, our results did not find RATS to be superior to VATS in terms of long-term pain. Additionally, robotic surgery is associated with higher hospital costs. In light of these findings, further comparative studies between the two approaches are recommended, while strategies to reduce postoperative pain and financial cost should continue to be explored.