The learning curve of video-assisted mediastinoscopic lymphadenectomy for staging of non-small-cell lung carcinoma

Jean H. T. Daemen, Robert A. M. van den Broek, Pieter W. J. Lozekoot, Jos G. Maessen, Karel W. E. Hulsewe, Yvonne L. J. Vissers, Erik R. de Loos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to define the learning process of video-assisted mediastinoscopic lymphadenectomy (VAMLA) by the assessment of consecutive procedural metrics.

METHODS: We conducted a single-centre retrospective observational study of all consecutive VAMLAs performed between 2011 and 2018 for the staging of non-small-cell lung carcinoma. Learning curves were assessed using non-risk adjusted cumulative observed minus expected (CUSUM) failure charts of complications. Boundary lines were defined by the acceptable and unacceptable complication rates of 4.5% and 15.0%. The Kruskal-Wallis test with post hoc analysis was used to assess trends in operation time and blood loss.

RESULTS: Two-hundred-thirty-six unique VAMLAs by 4 surgeons performing their first procedures were evaluated. CUSUM charts of surgeons A and B showed a typical learning curve with an initial incline, followed by a turning point towards lower complications rates after 16-17 cases, whereas surgeons C and D showed an average performance. The median time between consecutive VAMLAs was shorter for surgeons A and B (13.0 vs 28.5-38.0 days for surgeons C and D). Overcoming the learning curve, complication rates of surgeons A and B decreased from 19% to 3% and from 18% to 5%, respectively. Operation time and blood loss showed a significant improvement after, respectively, 81-100 and 61-80 procedures compared to the first 20 procedures.

CONCLUSIONS: VAMLA is a safe procedure to adopt and perform with acceptable complication rates from the first operation onward, regardless of the caseload. To overcome its learning curve, 16-17 cases are required, preferably at least 1 per 2 weeks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-535
Number of pages9
JournalInteractive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Video-assisted mediastinoscopic lymphadenectomy
  • Learning curve
  • Complications


Dive into the research topics of 'The learning curve of video-assisted mediastinoscopic lymphadenectomy for staging of non-small-cell lung carcinoma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this