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Video-Assissted Thoracoscopy (VATS)

What is thoracoscopy?

Also known as Video-Assisted Thoracoscopy (VATS), this is a procedure that can be used to diagnose any lung disease. It allows for internal examination, biopsy and surgical treatment of diseases related to the lungs, the pleura (envelope lining the lungs), esophagus or thymus. The internal examination is done using a thin laparoscope attached to a camera.

Who is it recommended for?

Thoracoscopy is the procedure of choice for conditions that require a biopsy of the lung or pleura; or for treating infections of the pleural lining (chronic empyema). VATS is also recommended for removal of esophageal tumors or the thymus in case of enlargement. However, before proceeding with surgery, you will need to consult our surgical experts who will advise investigations and tests as required.

What are the advantages of doing thoracoscopy over open surgery?

As thoracoscopy is done via cuts no larger than 1 cm, there is much less pain than in open surgery. It is also easier to breathe and cough after undergoing a thoracoscopy which reduces the chances of developing infections such as pneumonia.

How long will I need to stay in the hospital and how long is the recovery?

The surgery may last for 1 to 3 hours, depending on the disease and complexity of the procedure. The post-surgery stay in hospital and the recovery timespan will also vary from case to case. While you can move around a day after the surgery, the time taken to resume normal routine is different for every patient.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Some patients may require insertion of an Inter-Costal Drainage (ICD) tube in the chest, which will usually be removed prior to discharge. For every patient that undergoes VATS, it is important to do the chest exercises recommended by our physiotherapists. This will help them clear out any chest secretions and decrease the risk of infections.