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Parenchymal-Sparing Procedures in Lung Cancer: Sleeve Resection of the Lung for Proximal Lesions

  • Simon Ashiku
    Affiliations
    Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
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  • Malcolm M. DeCamp Jr.
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to Malcolm M. DeCamp Jr., MD, Chief, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 110 Francis Street, Suite 2A, Boston, MA 02215.
    Affiliations
    Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
    Search for articles by this author
      Sir Clement Price Thomas performed the first sleeve lobectomy in 1947 in England.
      • Price Thomas C.
      Conservative resection of the bronchial tree.
      He devised the operation as a lung-sparing technique for the resection of centrally located pulmonary tumors. Paulson and Shaw are credited with popularizing the technique in the United States in the 1950s.
      • Paulson D.L.
      • Shaw R.R.
      Results of bronchoplastic procedures for bronchogenic carcinoma.
      Currently, sleeve lobectomy is accepted as the standard of care for lung tumors extending into the central airways. Since the tumor tends to obstruct the lobar bronchus, leading to postobstructive atelectasis, patients have functionally lost the affected lobe’s contribution to overall pulmonary function. Sleeve lobectomies tend to be well tolerated because they remove only the affected lobe and a small portion of the attached airway.
      With the exception of tumors that affect all lobar orifices or have extensive longitudinal main pulmonary artery involvement, a sleeve lobectomy is feasible for all tumors invading the main bronchus or any lobar bronchi. Although a right upper lobe sleeve is the most common and straightforward procedure, a sleeve lobectomy can be performed on any lobe, including the right lower lobe with preservation of the right middle lobe. Even extensive main bronchial involvement is amenable to sleeve resection by extending the airway resection to involve the entire mainstem bronchus. The remaining lobe(s) is reimplanted into the carinal opening and airway diameter mismatches are reconciled with bronchoplastic techniques. Limited pulmonary artery involvement can be treated with a combined bronchial and pulmonary artery sleeve resection. Finally, it is our practice to perform a sleeve lobectomy whenever the tumor is visible as a fungating mass emanating from a segmental airway. Although these tumors may sometimes be successfully resected utilizing a standard lobectomy, we feel the additional margin obtained with a sleeve lobectomy may reduce the risk of local recurrence.
      Before performing a sleeve resection, patients undergo a metastatic workup with a brain magnetic resonance imaging and a positron emission tomography scan to rule out distant disease. A contrast-enhanced chest computed tomography (CT) with reformatted two- and three-dimensional airway images provide detailed information of the longitudinal extent of airway involvement, while a flexible bronchoscopy further assesses the extent of endobronchial involvement. The information gleaned from these two studies is used to determine the feasibility of a sleeve lobectomy. Given the central location of these tumors, a mediastinoscopy is performed. Patients found to have regional nodal involvement are treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy and are then restaged with a chest CT scan to determine if they are candidates for sleeve resection.
      We prefer to perform a sleeve lobectomy through a posterolateral thoracotomy. Shingling of the fifth rib may allow for improved access to enable secure, airtight knots. Intercostal muscle flaps are harvested and used to wrap airway anastomoses to reduce the risk of bronchopleural and bronchovascular fistula. The periosteum should be removed to prevent possibility of extrinsic anastomotic compression from bone regeneration. Dissection of the main bronchus is limited to a few millimeters to either side of the segment to be resected and the pleural incisions are likewise limited. Limiting the extent of dissection helps preserve the blood supply along the bronchus as well as from the pleural and surrounding tissues, helping to reduce the risk of anastomotic dehiscence.

      Operative Techniques

      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Figure 1The patient is positioned in full lateral decubitus and the table is flexed under the torso. The chest is entered through a posterolateral thoracotomy, at the fourth or fifth intercostal space. The intercostal muscle is harvested for later use as a buttress for the anastomosis. Often, the fifth rib is shingled posteriorly and the inferior border of the rhomboideus and trapezious muscles are partially divided to facilitate access. The latissimus dorsi and/or serratus anterior muscles can be divided or spared depending on the surgeon’s preference. It is our bias to use any or all such measures to enhance access to facilitate an easily visualized and well-fashioned anastomosis.
      Figure thumbnail gr2
      Figure 2Sleeve right upper lobectomy (anterolateral view). The right upper lobe tributary to the superior pulmonary vein and apical-anterior pulmonary artery branch are isolated and divided as in a typical right upper lobectomy. The interlobar pulmonary artery is exposed and the posterior ascending segmental pulmonary artery is isolated and divided. The oblique fissure between the right upper and lower lobe and the transverse fissure between the right upper and middle lobe are divided with a linear stapler. All lymphatic, peribronchial tissue is swept up onto the specimen, skeletonizing the right upper lobe bronchus. At this point the right upper lobe is attached only by its lobar bronchus. PA = pulmonary artery; RLL = right lower lobe; RML = right middle lobe; RUL = right upper lobe.
      Figure thumbnail gr3
      Figure 3Sleeve right upper lobectomy (posterior view). With the right upper lobe attached by only the lobar bronchus, a limited circumferential dissection of right main bronchus is performed. The dissection is limited only to the length of main bronchus and bronchus intermedius to be resected. The posterior hilar pleural incision is also limited to the proximal and distal extent of airway resection. Avoiding unnecessary dissection reduces the extent of bronchial airway devascularization. These maneuvers are important because division of the main bronchus interrupts the bronchial vessels, leaving the distal airway without direct bronchial arterial nutrient supply. a = artery; RML = right middle lobe; RUL = right upper lobe.
      Figure thumbnail gr4
      Figure 4(A, B) Sleeve right upper lobectomy (posterior view). The right main bronchus above and the bronchus intermedius below are sharply divided. A sharp scalpel is used to create clean and smooth airway ends. Delicate handling of the airway tissue is important to minimize trauma to tissue and capillaries. Proximal and distal airway margins are evaluated by frozen section analysis. Additional airway is resected as necessary to achieve clear margins.
      Figure thumbnail gr5
      Figure 5Sleeve right upper lobectomy. Anastomotic sutures are placed circumferentially starting with the most dependent area of the bronchus. Interrupted 4-0 polyglycolic acid sutures are used to reduce the risk of granulation tissue at the anastomosis. They are lubricated with sterile mineral oil to reduce the friction when passing through the cartilaginous rings. A simple interrupted suturing technique is used to place stitches every 4 mm and to a depth of one ring. Sutures are placed so that the knots are on the outside of the airway.
      Figure thumbnail gr6
      Figure 6(A, B) All sutures are placed, maintained, separated, and organized before any are tied. The sutures placed through the stronger cartilaginous rings are tied first, followed by those placed in the membranous wall. This sequence of knot tying approximates the ends of the cartilaginous airway, which limits anastomotic tension before the more delicate membranous wall sutures are tied, reducing the risk of airway tears.
      Figure thumbnail gr7
      Figure 7Sleeve right upper lobectomy. A pedicled intercostal muscle flap is first prepared by removing the periosteum from its distal portion. It is then wrapped around the bronchial anastomosis to buttress the suture line and separate it from the pulmonary artery. Removing the periosteum helps to prevent possible extrinsic bronchial compression and obstruction from the ossification process.
      Figure thumbnail gr8a
      Figure 8(A, B) Sleeve left upper lobectomy. The principles of a left upper or left lower sleeve lobectomy are the same as described above for the right upper lobe. However, unlike in a right-sided sleeve, the pulmonary artery overlies the left airway and thus increases the level of technical difficulty associated with a left-sided sleeve lobectomy. (A) demonstrates the distal left main bronchus with left upper lobe (LUL) and left lower lobe (LLL) bronchi as viewed from the posterior hilum once exposed by dissection. (B) demonstrates the lateral view once all vascular divisions are complete and the left upper lobe is attached by only the lobar bronchus. a = artery; LPA = left pulmonary artery.
      Figure thumbnail gr8b
      Figure 8(A, B) Sleeve left upper lobectomy. The principles of a left upper or left lower sleeve lobectomy are the same as described above for the right upper lobe. However, unlike in a right-sided sleeve, the pulmonary artery overlies the left airway and thus increases the level of technical difficulty associated with a left-sided sleeve lobectomy. (A) demonstrates the distal left main bronchus with left upper lobe (LUL) and left lower lobe (LLL) bronchi as viewed from the posterior hilum once exposed by dissection. (B) demonstrates the lateral view once all vascular divisions are complete and the left upper lobe is attached by only the lobar bronchus. a = artery; LPA = left pulmonary artery.
      Figure thumbnail gr9a
      Figure 9A sleeve lobectomy is possible for any lobe. The diagrams illustrate the different types of sleeve lobectomies performed. (A) Standard right upper lobe sleeve (most common type performed). (B) Right upper and lower lobe sleeve. (C) Right upper and middle lobe sleeve. (D) Extended right lower and middle lobe sleeve. (E) Left upper lobe sleeve. (F) Left lower lobe sleeve.
      Figure thumbnail gr9b
      Figure 9A sleeve lobectomy is possible for any lobe. The diagrams illustrate the different types of sleeve lobectomies performed. (A) Standard right upper lobe sleeve (most common type performed). (B) Right upper and lower lobe sleeve. (C) Right upper and middle lobe sleeve. (D) Extended right lower and middle lobe sleeve. (E) Left upper lobe sleeve. (F) Left lower lobe sleeve.
      Figure thumbnail gr10
      Figure 10(A, B) When a tumor involves the bronchus intermedius, a bilobectomy or a sleeve may be performed. The long middle lobe bronchus and the size mismatch between the bronchus intermedius and the right middle lobe (RML) often make it impractical to save the middle lobe. (A) When preserving the RML is felt to be important, the bronchus intermedius must be tailored to accommodate the small RML bronchus. This is best accomplished by imbricating the posterior membranous wall of the bronchus intermedius to match the diameter of the middle lobe as depicted in the insert. (B) When preserving the lower lobe, there is much less size discrepancy and a direct end-to-end anastomosis is performed.
      Figure thumbnail gr11
      Figure 11(A, B) Extended sleeve lobectomies of the upper lobes may place undue tension on the airway anastomosis. Tension on the anastomosis can be reduced by performing a hilar release. The release can be performed on either the right (A) or the left (B) side, depending on the tumor location. The pericardium on the inferior aspect of the inferior pulmonary vein is incised, allowing the hilar structures to be rotated cephalad to allow airway approximation with less tethering by the pericardium. The pericardial incision can be carried circumferentially around the hilum for additional mobility. In performing a hilar release, it is important not to disrupt the posterior pleura investing the lower lobe bronchus. The intact pleura and surrounding tissue interface provides the only remaining systemic arterial supply to the distal airways. a = artery; v = vein.
      Figure thumbnail gr12
      Figure 12Occasionally, an upper lobe tumor will invade the proximal left or right pulmonary artery. In such cases, a combined airway and pulmonary artery sleeve resection can be performed, avoiding the need for pneumonectomy. In such cases, the airway transection is performed first, freeing the tumor from the proximal and distal bronchus. The superior pulmonary vein is then divided and the pulmonary artery is exposed proximal and distal to the area of tumor invasion. Vascular clamps are applied for proximal and distal control and the segment of involved pulmonary artery is divided and resected. 5-0 Prolene sutures are used to perform the running vascular anastomosis. The airway anastomosis is then fashioned. A pedicled muscle flap is always used to wrap the airway anastomosis, thus separating it from the pulmonary artery anastomosis. PA = pulmonary artery.

      Conclusions

      Centrally located lung tumors, which invade the lobar or main bronchus, can be treated with either a pneumonectomy or a sleeve lobectomy. There are no randomized prospective studies comparing the two treatment modalities. However, six large retrospective series consistently demonstrate that sleeve resection is associated with at least equivalent and possibly improved 5-year survival.
      • Gaissert H.A.
      • Mathisen D.J.
      • Moncure A.C.
      • et al.
      Survival and function after sleeve lobectomy for lung cancer.
      • Yoshini I.
      • Tokoyama H.
      • Yano T.
      • et al.
      Comparison of the surgical results after lobectomy with bronchoplasty and pneumonectomy for lung cancer.
      • Suen H.C.
      • Meyers B.F.
      • Guthrie T.
      • et al.
      Favorable results after sleeve lobectomy or bronchoplasty for bronchial malignancies.
      • Okada M.
      • Yamagishi H.
      • Satake S.
      • et al.
      Survival related to lymph node involvement in lung cancer after sleeve lobectomy compared to pneumonectomy.
      • Deslauriers J.
      • Gregoire J.
      • Jacques L.F.
      Sleeve lobectomy versus pneumonectomy for lung cancer: a comparative analysis of survival and sites of recurrences.
      The largest series published to date compared 1250 consecutive patients from a single institution who underwent either a sleeve lobectomy (n = 184) or a pneumonectomy (n = 1046). Sleeve lobectomies were always performed when technically feasible. Compared with the pneumonectomy group, the sleeve lobectomy group was associated with reduced operative mortality (1.6% versus 5.3%) and improved 5-year survival (52% versus 31%, P < 0.0001). The survival improvement was statistically significant for early-stage disease, but not for stage III disease. Local recurrence rates were lower in the sleeve group compared with the pneumonectomy group (22% versus 35%).
      • Deslauriers J.
      • Gregoire J.
      • Jacques L.F.
      Sleeve lobectomy versus pneumonectomy for lung cancer: a comparative analysis of survival and sites of recurrences.
      When technically possible, a sleeve lobectomy is preferred over a pneumonectomy. It preserves lung parenchyma and is associated with reduced morbidity and mortality when compared with pneumonectomy. As such, sleeve lobectomy is currently considered the standard of care.

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        J. Surg Oncol. 1997; 64: 32-35
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        • Okada M.
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        Survival related to lymph node involvement in lung cancer after sleeve lobectomy compared to pneumonectomy.
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