Another technique for chest surgery is called video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, or VATS. The patient is placed on his/her side. Instead of a large incision through the chest, surgeons make two to four small incisions between the ribs. A camera is placed through one incision. The camera provides a view inside the chest through a television monitor. Special surgical instruments are used to separate tissue and access the target area of the lung. The affected lobe is removed and surgical staplers seal the incision on the lung.
Walter Scott, M.D., a Thoracic Surgeon with Fox Chase Cancer Center says the smaller incisions and the ability to leave the ribs intact means less pain for patients. There are fewer complications and recovery time is faster. Many patients are out of the hospital after three days. Currently, VATS is usually reserved for patients with early stage lung cancer. However, some physicians are starting to use the technique for patients with more advanced cancer who've already received chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
For information about the treatments at Fox Chase Cancer Center: www.fccc.edu.