Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery

What is Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery?

VATS (video-assisted thoracic surgery) is a type of minimally invasive thoracic Surgery performed with a thoracoscope. The thoracoscope transmits images of the operating area to a monitor located next to the patient. It is particularly used to minimize trauma by using small incisions and special instruments. This process is also known as thoracoscopy, thoracoscopic surgery, or pleuroscopy. About three tiny (1-inch) incisions are made during thoracoscopic surgery, compared to one long 6 to 8-inch chest incision, which is used for conventional, “open” thoracic Surgery. These tiny incisions are used to insert surgical instruments and the thoracoscope.

What types of cancers are treated with Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery?

  • Surgeons use VATS to perform procedures such as:
  • Diagnostic Biopsy of lung cancer, mesothelioma and other chest cancers
  • Cure lungs cancer and procedure to reduce the volume of the lungs
  • Procedures for removing excess fluid or air from the lungs
  • Surgical procedure for removing part or the entire oesophagus (Oesophagectomy)
  • Treatment for removal of the thymus gland (thymectomy)

How is Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery done?

Usually, VATS is done with general anaesthesia which makes you sleep so that you are unconscious during the procedure. A tube is put down your throat after the anaesthesia takes effect to help you breathe. This tube can be used by your anesthesiologist to make you breathe through only one of your lungs. This allows the other lung to be completely deflated and allows the surgeon to view your chest cavity in full on that side during the procedure.

You spend the procedure lying on your side. About three very small (less than one inch long) incisions are made, usually between your seventh and eighth ribs. Carbon dioxide gas may flow through this opening into your chest, while your lung on that side may collapse partially or completely. A tiny camera on a tube is then inserted through the opening. It is called a thoracoscope. The doctor uses a video screen to see the work he or she is doing.

What are the side effects of Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery?

Side effects are rare and may include:

  • Fever
  • Pleural tears and/or subcutaneous emphysema causing air leakage
  • Haemorrhage
  • Perforation to the lung
  • Gas embolism

Patients are also at risk of general anaesthetic complications.