Purpose: To compare the outcomes and efficacy of awake video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) with those of chemical pleurodesis for intractable secondary spontaneous pneumothorax (SSP). Methods: We analyzed, retrospectively, 60 consecutive patients who underwent awake VATS (n = 22) or chemical pleurodesis (n = 38) for SSP. Using propensity score matching, we identified comparable patient groups (n = 12 each): the awake VATS group and the chemical pleurodesis group. We compared hematologic data on postoperative day 1, postoperative complications including respiratory complications, and the maximum score on the verbal rating scale (VRS) between the groups. Next, we identified comparable patient groups (n = 8 each) for those with controlled air leak after treatment, but not for those with a prolonged air leak. We analyzed data about the day of air leak control, intra-thoracic drainage, and hospital stay to compare awake VATS vs. chemical pleurodesis. Results: After propensity score matching, the rates of recurrent pneumothorax and prolonged air leaks after conservative or surgical treatment were not significantly different. The C-reactive protein level and the VRS score were significantly lower in the awake VATS group. The duration of prolonged air leak, and drainage after treatment were significantly shorter in the awake VATS group. The postoperative hospital stay and the incidence of postoperative complications did not differ between the groups. Conclusions: We advocate that awake VATS, performed by a skilled thoracic surgeon, is a more feasible surgical option than chemical pleurodesis for patients with intractable SSP.
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