Future of uniportal video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery—emerging technology
Uniportal VATS poses unique difficulties to the surgeon, mainly as a consequence of operating through a small single incision. The instruments in uniportal VATS have limited movement through the small incision. In addition, the approach to the surgical operating site is unidirectional, which may restrict vision and retraction, and unavoidably suffers from instrument fencing. Recent thoracoscopic technology in the form of a wide variable angled lens has to some extent improved these shortcomings. The development of an extendable flexible thoracoscope and wireless steerable endoscope (WSE) systems can further improve the visualization for surgery and reduce or even remove fencing between endoscope and instruments. New single incision access platforms both derived from Natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) and robotic surgery approaches are on the horizon. These may allow uniportal VATS to be performed through an even smaller ultra-minimally invasive incision, with improved vision, more freedom of movement of the instruments and greater precision. However, a number of problems remain to be resolved, including provision of a stable platform and payload, applied force limitations and equipment sterilization. Advances in uniportal VATS major lung resection techniques have not only challenged the surgeon to acquire new skills and knowledge, but at the same time have rekindled the collaborative spirit between industry and clinician in developing novel equipment and technology to push the boundaries of minimally invasive surgery. These technological improvements and innovations may improve operating efficiency and safety during uniportal VATS surgery.