Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS)

What is video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS)?

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is a minimally invasive surgery used to diagnose and treat problems in the thorax (chest).

In VATS, a tiny camera called a thoracoscope and surgical instruments are inserted into the chest through one or more small incisions.

The thoracoscope transmits images onto a video monitor to guide the surgeon in performing the procedure.

Compared with traditional surgery, minimally invasive surgery such as VATS offers benefits such as:

  • Decreased postoperative pain
  • Less bleeding
  • Reduced risk of infection
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • More rapid recovery and return to work

Why do you need VATS?

VATS is used to to treat a wide variety of conditions involving the thorax (chest).

Some uses for VATS include:

  • Biopsy for lung cancer, mesothelioma and other chest cancers
  • Lung surgery for cancer and lung volume reduction surgery
  • Removing excess fluid (pleural effusion) or air from the area between the lungs and chest wall
  • Minimally invasive heart procedures such as atrial fibrillation ablation, pacemaker lead placement, and mitral valve repair
  • Treating hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
  • Many other surgeries that involve the heart, ribs, spine, oesophagus and diaphragm

Who should not undergo VATS?

In general, because VATS is a minimally invasive technique, it is a preferred option to traditional open surgeries.

However, VATS may not be appropriate for people who have had chest surgery previously.

Your doctor will carefully evaluate the best and safest surgery for your medical condition.

What are the risks and complications of VATS?

This procedure is generally considered safe and effective.

Like all surgical procedures however, there are some general risks, such as:

  • Air leak
  • Partial collapsed lung (atelectasis)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Excess bleeding
  • Infections such as pneumonia
  • Blood clots
  • Shock
  • Anesthesia-related effects
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