Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS)

Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), a minimally-invasive treatment option for cancer and other lung conditions, is offered at Providence.

VATS can be used for biopsies to diagnose diseases of the lining of the chest (pleura), disease in the substance of the lung (such as interstitial lung disease, lung infection or inflammation) and lung cancer.

Advanced surgery – called a VATS lobectomy – is available to remove larger portions of lung tissue to treat lung cancer. This innovative, minimally-invasive lung surgery can result in reduced pain, a faster recovery and fewer complication rates than a traditional lobectomy.

A lobectomy, which involves surgically removing the diseased part of the lung, is the most common surgery used to treat lung cancer. A VATS lobectomy differs from the standard version in several ways. With VATS, surgeons make smaller incisions – typically 1-3 inches in length versus 6-8 inches. They then thread a tiny video camera (called a thorascope) through one of the incisions. The camera allows them to view the lung on a flat screen monitor as well as precisely maneuver surgical instruments.

The main advantages of VATS over thoracotomy are that major muscles of the chest wall are not divided and rib spreaders that can lead to rib fractures or costovertebral joint pain are not used. This results in a hospital length of stay after VATS lobectomy generally reported to range from 3-5 days, or roughly half that for lobectomy via thoracotomy.

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