BACKGROUND--Video assisted thoracoscopic lung biopsies were compared with historical controls undergoing open lung biopsy to determine the diagnostic accuracy, effect on length of postoperative stay, and cost effectiveness of the new thoracoscopic technique. METHODS--The first 25 video assisted thoracoscopic lung biopsies performed in the Edinburgh Thoracic Unit were compared with 25 historical controls for complications, diagnostic accuracy, and length of postoperative stay. RESULTS--Statistical comparison showed equal diagnostic accuracy in both groups (96% v 92%), but mean (SD) inpatient stay was reduced in the video assisted thoracoscopic group (1.4 (0.7) days) compared with those undergoing open lung biopsy (3.1 (1.8) days). No postoperative complications were reported in the group which underwent video assisted thoracoscopic lung biopsies but three patients had postoperative complications in the open lung biopsy group. CONCLUSIONS--Video assisted thoracoscopic lung biopsy is as effective in providing histological diagnosis as is open lung biopsy. All postoperative complications were related to post thoracotomy pain and occurred only in patients undergoing open lung biopsy. Reduced postoperative disability in the video assisted thoracoscopic group decreased hospital stay, offsetting the increased cost in disposables. The overall cost of video assisted thoracoscopic and open lung biopsy was 712 pounds and 1114 pounds, respectively.
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