Non-intubated video-assisted thoracic surgery in patients aged 80 years and older

Mark R. Katlic, Matthew A. Facktor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) is routinely performed with general anesthesia and double-lumen endotracheal intubation, but this technique may stress an elderly patient's functional reserve. We chose to study the safety and efficacy of non-intubated VATS, utilizing local anesthesia, sedation, and spontaneous ventilation in the elderly. Methods: The medical records of all patients aged 80 years and older who underwent VATS under local anesthesia and sedation during the time period 6/1/2002 to 6/1/2010 at Geisinger Health System (Pennsylvania, USA) and 10/1/2011 to 12/31/2014 at Sinai Hospital (Maryland, USA) were retrospectively reviewed. Unsuccessful attempts at this technique were eligible for inclusion but there were none. No patient was excluded based on comorbidity. Results: A total of 96 patients ranging in age from 80 to 104 years underwent 102 non-intubated VATS procedures: pleural biopsy/effusion drainage with or without talc 73, drainage of empyema 17, evacuate hemothorax 4, pericardial window 3, lung biopsy 2, treat chylothorax 2, treat pneumothorax 1. No patient required intubation or conversion to thoracotomy. No patient required a subsequent procedure or biopsy. Complications occurred in three patients (3.1% morbidity): cerebrovascular accident, pulmonary embolism, prolonged air leak. One 94-year-old patient died from overanticoagulation and two 84-year-old patients died of their advanced lung cancers (3.1% morbidity). Conclusions: Non-intubated VATS utilizing local anesthesia and sedation in the elderly is well tolerated and safe for a number of indications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101
JournalAnnals of Translational Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Empyema
  • Geriatric anesthesia
  • Geriatric surgery
  • Pleural effusion
  • Thoracoscopy
  • Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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