Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery

VATS is a type of chest surgery that requires making tiny openings in the chest. During VATS, the doctor makes small, keyhole incisions and uses a tiny camera (called a thoracoscope) and other small tools. Images from the camera are sent to TV monitors. The doctor relies on these images to do the surgery.

  • Call Your Doctor

    After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Cough or shortness of breath
    • Coughing up yellow, green, or bloody mucus
    • New chest pain
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from an incision site
    • Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs

    • Persistent nausea, vomiting, and/or
      diarrhea
    • Other worrisome symptoms

    Call for medical help or go to the emergency room right away if any of the following occurs:

    • Sudden chest pain
    • Sudden shortness of breath

    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    VATS is a type of chest surgery that requires making tiny openings in the chest. During VATS, the doctor makes small, keyhole incisions and uses a tiny camera (called a thoracoscope) and other small tools. Images from the camera are sent to TV monitors. The doctor relies on these images to do the surgery.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    VATS is used to diagnose and treat a range of conditions. Common reasons to undergo VATS include:


    • Diagnosing and treating
      lung cancer, including lymph node biopsy.
    • Removing diseased lung sections or lobes
    • Diagnosing lung infections

    • Treating
      collapsed lungs
    • Draining fluid out of the chest cavity
    • Diagnosing and treating of the thymus (organ in the chest)
    Lung Cancer
    IMAGE
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    Compared to traditional procedures, VATS may result in:

    • Less pain and faster recovery
    • Shorter hospital stay
    • Fewer complications
    • Less scarring

  • Possible Complications

    Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have VATS, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

    • Infection
    • Bleeding
    • Anesthesia-related problems
    • Air leaking from the lungs or collapsed lung.
    • Chest pain
    • The need to switch to open chest surgery (eg, to remove a larger area of the lung)

    Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

    • Pre-existing heart or lung condition
    • Smoking
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • Previous chest surgery
    • Use of certain medicines

    Discuss these risks with your doctor before surgery.