Trapdoor anterior thoracotomy for cervicothoracic and apical thoracic neuroblastoma in children



Cervicothoracic and apical thoracic neuroblastoma pose unique surgical challenges. We report our experience with the trapdoor anterior thoracotomy (TAT) approach to overcome these difficulties.


Retrospective review of our centre’s neuroblastoma database was conducted. Patients who underwent TAT at our centre were included, their demographic data and clinical reports were analyzed.


A total of 21 patients underwent TAT for neuroblastoma, mean age at surgery of 3.5 (0.3–7.9) years, male to female ratio was 11:10. Fifteen patients had cervicothoracic tumors while 6 had apical thoracic tumors. All except 2 were primary tumors. They were stage M (n = 12), MS (n = 1), and L2 (n = 8). At pre-operative assessment, 19 patients had image-defined risk factor (IDRF), including dual compartmental involvement (n = 15), trachea/bronchus compression (n = 4), encasement of carotid (n = 5), subclavian (n = 11), and vertebral arteries (n = 6). Four underwent upfront surgery while 17 received pre-operative chemotherapy of 2–8 (mean 3.9) cycles. All patients accomplished gross total resection. None had MYCN amplification. The postoperative complications included Horner’s syndrome (n = 21), Klumpke’s palsy (n = 1), winged scapula (n = 1), phrenic nerve palsy (n = 1), and bronchomalacia (n = 2).


Gross total resection of cervicothoracic and apical thoracic neuroblastoma can be accomplished by TAT with minimal morbidity.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Data collection and analysis were performed by Chan Hon Chui. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Chan Hon Chui and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Chan Hon Chui.

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Our local audit committee has approved this retrospective study that involved secondary use of data, from a database, which is provided without any identifier.

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Chui, C.H., Thirugnanam, A. Trapdoor anterior thoracotomy for cervicothoracic and apical thoracic neuroblastoma in children. Pediatr Surg Int 36, 891–895 (2020).

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  • Cervicothoracic neuroblastoma
  • Apical thoracic neuroblastoma
  • Surgery
  • Trapdoor thoracotomy