VATS is a way to do surgery inside the chest. With open surgery, the doctor makes one large cut in your chest. But with VATS, the doctor makes several small cuts. VATS also differs from open surgery because the doctor does not have to cut through the ribs or breastbone (sternum). The doctor can use VATS to find and treat many problems in the chest.
To start, the doctor will make several small cuts between your ribs. These cuts are called incisions. The doctor will put a thin, lighted tube with a camera on it into your chest. This tube is called a thoracoscope, or scope. It lets the doctor see inside your chest. Then the doctor will use tiny surgical tools to do the surgery. The doctor will close the incisions with stitches or staples.
How long you stay in the hospital and how long your recovery takes will depend on why you are having the surgery.
The scars from the incisions will fade with time. The area around the incisions may ache or feel numb in the weeks after surgery.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: December 6, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& David C. Stuesse, MD - Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery
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