Journal of Clinical and Investigative Surgery
ISSN: 2559-5555


Muscle sparing lateral thoracotomy: the standard incision for thoracic procedures

Mihai Dumitrescu1, Andrei Bobocea1, Ioan Cordos1,2

1Marius Nasta Clinical Hospital, Department of Thoracic Surgery, Bucharest, Romania
2Carol Davila University, Department of Thoracic Surgery, Bucharest, Romania

J Clin Invest Surg. 2017; 2(1): 60-65. DOI: 10.25083/2559.5555.21.6065
Running title: Muscle sparring lateral thoracotomy
Keywords: lateral thoracotomy, muscle sparring, thoracic incisions, standard procedure


Lateral thoracotomy is a versatile approach with many variations and is currently the most widely used incision in thoracic surgery. In the current article we are presenting the muscle-sparing lateral thoracotomy in the lateral decubitus position which we consider to be the “standard” for lateral thoracotomies. Indications, surgical technique and pitfalls are described alongside our experience with thoracic drainage.

Although there is no consensus regarding the name of this incision, some authors call it “axillary thoracotomy” while others call it a “modified lateral thoracotomy”, they all agree on one aspect – the importance of muscle sparing – which makes it the go-to thoracotomy for both small and large procedures involving the lung.

Lateral muscle sparing thoracotomy allows for good exposure of the pulmonary hilum, fissures, apex and diaphragm. The approach is easy and quick to perform while at the same time ensuring faster postoperative recovery by sparing the latissimus dorsi muscle, better cosmetics and lower postoperative pain score when compared to the posterolateral or classical lateral thoracotomies.