Do the surgical results in the National Lung Screening Trial reflect modern thoracic surgical practice?

Mohamed K. Kamel, Benjamin Lee, Sebron Harrison, Jeffrey L. Port, Bradley Pua, Nasser K. Altorki, Brendon M. Stiles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Introduction: Surgical data from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) has yet to be closely examined. We sought to analyze surgical procedures and complications from the NLST to determine their relevance to modern surgical practice. Methods: The NLST database was queried for patients who underwent surgical resection for confirmed lung cancer, specifically evaluating postoperative complications. Numerical variables were compared using the Mann–Whitney U test. Categorical variables were compared using the χ 2 test. Logistic regression uni- and multivariable analysis of independent risk factors of postoperative complications was performed. Results: At operation, 80% of patients (n = 821) had lobectomy, 4.1% (n = 42) had pneumonectomy, and 16.1% (n = 166) had sublobar resection, among whom 69% (n = 114) had wedge resection. Only 29.6% (n = 305) of the cohort had a thoracoscopic resection. Although the overall rate of surgical patients with any complication was 31% (n = 318), only 15.5% of patients (n = 160) had major complications, most commonly prolonged air leaks (n = 67, 6.5%). Respiratory failure (n = 28, 2.7%), prolonged ventilation (n = 9, 0.9%), myocardial infarction or cardiac arrest (n = 7, 0.7%), and stroke (n = 2, 0.2%) were rare events. Overall 30-day mortality in patients undergoing resection was 1.7% (n = 18). On multivariable analysis, greater smoking pack history (odds ratio [OR], 1.01; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.001-1.01) and pulmonary comorbidities (OR, 1.34; 95% CI, 0.98-1.82) were significant or approached significance for an association with complications/death, whereas sublobar resection (OR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.38-0.94) and video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery approach (OR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.56-1.04) were significant or approached significance for an association with decreased rates of complications/death. Conclusions: Operative mortality and postoperative morbidity were very low in patients undergoing resection for screen-detected lung cancer. Increased use of sublobar resection and minimally invasive surgical approaches may be associated with fewer complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2038-2046.e1
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • low-dose computed tomography
  • lung cancer
  • minimally invasive surgery
  • screening
  • sublobar resection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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