Training Cardiothoracic Residents in Robotic Lobectomy Is Cost-Effective With No Change in Clinical Outcomes

James T. Nawalaniec, Matthew Elson, Scott I. Reznik, Michael A. Wait, Matthias Peltz, Michael E. Jessen, Alejandra Madrigales, Jerzy Lysikowski, Kemp H. Kernstine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Our objective was to evaluate for any changes in quality or cost when robotic lung resection is used with significant trainee participation. Methods: All anatomic lung resections between January 2006 and June 2016 were identified from a prospectively maintained database. Clinical data were recorded by double entry. Cost and cancer-related data were gathered from the business analytics department and tumor registry. Robotic outcomes were compared to an ongoing thoracotomy and video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) experience. Propensity scores using age, sex, and comorbidities were assigned for statistical analysis. Survival was evaluated using the Kaplan–Meier method. Results: Of 523 consecutive cases, 483 were included (211 robotic, 210 thoracotomy, 62 VATS). There were 74 robotic cases (35%) performed by trainees as the console surgeon. Length of stay was shortest for robotics (3 days) compared to thoracotomy (7 days, P < 0.001) and VATS (5 days, P = 0.010). Complications occurred in 33% of robotic cases, 42% of VATS cases (P = 0.854), and 52% of thoracotomy cases (P < 0.001). Stage I non‐small cell lung cancer 3-year overall survival for robotics, thoracotomy, and VATS was 79.5%, 74.3%, and 74.0%, respectively (P > 0.25). There was no significant difference in negative margin rates. Total cost related to the hospitalization for surgery was $5,721 less for robotics compared to thoracotomy (P = 0.003) but comparable to VATS. Trainees served as console surgeon in 0% of cases in the first 2 years of robotics but increased to 79% in the last year of the study. Conclusions: Robotic lung resection can be safely performed and taught in an academic medical center without sacrificing quality or cost.


  • lobectomy
  • non‐small cell lung cancer
  • robotics
  • segmentectomy
  • VATS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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