Getting the Basics of Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery

video assisted thoracic surgery

Any surgical procedure in the thorax region of the human body has two basic objectives – to diagnose or to treat. Whichever you need, it is better to talk to your doctor beforehand to get a clear idea about the details. The thoracic area includes the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other parts.


Today most surgeons opt for the Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS). What does the procedure involve? How do you need to prepare? What are the advantages? What are the risks? Your surgeon is the best person to answer all your questions.

Problem: Doctors may utilize this surgical procedure for several health conditions. The list includes chest wall infections, pneumonia infections, collapsing lungs, and so on. Continuous medical research is expanding the possibilities in this regard.

Purpose: The basic goals of VATS are either to diagnose a health condition or to treat a medical problem. Your surgeon is best suited to help you understand why you need this surgery. You would also need to sign a consent form before you undergo the procedure at surgery center.

Preparation: The pulmonary function test is one essential at this stage. You need to discuss the specifications with your doctor. You may need to stop taking certain medications. You also need to abstain from eating or drinking anything for about eight hours before the surgery.

Procedure: The first step is to use anesthesia on the patient. Then the breathing tube is inserted to help the patient breathe. If the doctor thinks it necessary, he may deflate one lung completely or partially during the operation. The surgeon makes the necessary incisions for inserting the camera and the surgical instruments.

If it is for diagnosis, the surgeon inserts the thoracoscope (a long, flexible tube with a camera) through the incision.

If it involves sample collection, or treatment, the surgeon may need to insert other instruments as well. The camera helps the surgeon perform the procedure with ease.

Post-op: Usually, the chest tube inserted during the operation stays for a few days. This is necessary to drain away any air or fluids from the cavity. You may need to stay at the surgery center for a day or two. Even after you go home, proper care is necessary. This would include avoiding strenuous work, proper diet, and so on.

Pros: The VATS procedure is much more hassle-free than open surgery. It involves fewer complications, requires less downtime, and provides the necessary results. As the incisions are smaller, the chances of infections are less too.

Possibilities: Like all surgical procedures, this also has some risks associated with it. The most common problem is bleeding. Other potential problems include leaking lungs, problems due to anesthesia, and such others. It is better to report to your surgeon immediately if you experience chest pain, breathlessness or high fever.

If you are in need of thoracic surgery, VATS could be a good option. However, you cannot ascertain this on your own. You need to consult a qualified and experienced surgeon for advice in this regard.

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