Overview of uniportal video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS): past and present
Single incision video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), better known as uniportal VATS, has taken the world of thoracic surgery by storm over the previous few years. Through advances in techniques and technology, surgeons have been able to perform increasingly complex thoracic procedures utilizing a single small incision, hence avoiding the inherent morbidity of the standard open thoracotomy. This was a natural extension of what most recognize as the standard of care for early stage lung cancer, the VATS lobectomy, generally performed through a three- or four-incision technique. Improved camera optics have allowed the use of smaller cameras, making the uniportal approach technically easier. Improvement in articulating staplers and the development of other roticulator instruments have also aided working through a small single access point. The uniportal technique further brings the operative fulcrum inside the chest cavity, enabling better visualization, and creates working conditions similar to the open thoracotomy. Currently, uniportal VATS is being used for minor thoracic procedures and lung resections up to complex thoracic procedures typically requiring open approaches, such as chest wall resections, pneumonectomy, and bronchoplastic and pulmonary artery sleeve resections. Uniportal VATS is a clear advance in the field of general thoracic surgery and provides but a glimpse into the untold future.