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Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery

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by Stahl RJ

(VATS)

 

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
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Compared to traditional procedures, VATS may result in:
  • Less pain and faster recovery
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Fewer complications
  • Less scarring
 

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to the surgery:
  • Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure (eg, aspirin , clopidogrel , warfarin ).
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home and to help you at home.
  • Eat a light meal the night before. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.

Anesthesia

VATS is usually done using general anesthesia . This will block pain and keep you asleep during surgery.

Description of the Procedure

You will be connected to a ventilator. This is a machine that moves air in and out of your lungs. Depending on the reason you are having VATS, one lung will be completely or partly deflated. This will allow your doctor to have a better view of the chest cavity on that side.
Several small cuts in the skin will be made along your side. Carbon dioxide gas will be used to fill the chest cavity. The gas will make it easier for the doctor to see internal structures. Through one of the incisions, the doctor will insert the thoracoscope. This camera will send images to the TV monitors. The doctor will rely on these images to do the surgery. Other small tools will be inserted into the cuts. These tools will allow the doctor to grasp, cut, dissect, and suture.
When the surgery is done, the tools will be removed. The lung will be inflated. A chest tube will be placed to drain any air or fluid. The doctor will close the incisions with sutures or staples.

Immediately After Procedure

If you are doing well, the breathing tube will be removed. In the recovery room, the hospital staff will monitor your vital signs. You may be given fluids and medicines through an IV.

How Long Will It Take?

1-2 hours (depending on the procedure)

How Much Will It Hurt?

You will have pain after surgery. Your doctor will give you pain medicine.

Average Hospital Stay

You may be able to go home the next day. If you have VATS for a lobectomy (removal of part of the lung), the usual length of stay is 3-4 days.

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital
While you are recovering at the hospital, you may receive the following care:
  • Fluids and pain medicine through an IV line
  • Assistance sitting up and moving around soon after surgery
  • Directions on how to do deep breathing and coughing exercises—You will learn how to use an incentive spirometer. This device helps you expand your lungs when taking a deep breath. This will prevent pneumonia .
  • Chest x-rays to monitor healing—The drainage chest tubes will be removed once your lungs are healed.
  • Instructions about nutrition and physical activity
At Home
Follow your doctor’s instructions, which may include:
  • Walk daily.
  • Take pain medicine as directed. Some pain medicine causes constipation . To prevent this, drink plenty of fluids and eat high-fiber foods.
  • Continue to use the incentive spirometer. Do deep breathing. You will also be encouraged to cough.
  • Keep the incision area clean and dry.
  • Limit certain activities until you have recovered.
Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
 

RESOURCES

American College of Surgeons
http://www.facs.org/

Society of Thoracic Surgeons
http://www.sts.org/

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Lung Association
http://www.lung.ca/

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html/

 

References


A patient’s guide to lung surgery: recovering at the hospital. University of Southern California, Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at: http://www.cts.usc.edu/lpg-thoracoscopy-recoveringinthehospital.html . Accessed March 9, 2010.


A patient’s guide to lung surgery: recovering at home. University of Southern California, Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at: http://www.cts.usc.edu/lpg-thoracoscopy-recoveringathome.html . March 9, 2010.


A patient’s guide to lung surgery: when to call the doctor. University of Southern California, Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at: http://www.cts.usc.edu/lpg-thoracoscopy-whentocallyourdoctor.html . Accessed March 9, 2010.


Pulmonary lobectomy. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated November 2009. Accessed March 8, 2010.


Robot-assisted laparoscopic procedures. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated December 2009. Accessed March 8, 2010.


Robot-assisted thoracic procedures. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated December 2009. Accessed March 8, 2010.


Video-assisted thoracic surgery. Harvard Health Publications website. Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/diagnostic-tests/video-assisted-thoracic-surgery.htm . Accessed March 8, 2010.


Video-assisted thorascopic surgery (VATS). Rush University Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.rush.edu/rumc/page-1160429783340.html . Accessed March 8, 2010.


Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/video-assisted-thoracic-surgery . Accessed March 8, 2010.


6/6/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.

 

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