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VATS is a type of chest surgery that requires making tiny openings in the chest. During VATS, the doctor makes small, keyhole incisions and uses a tiny camera (called a thoracoscope) and other small tools. Images from the camera are sent to TV monitors. The doctor relies on these images to do the surgery.
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.
While you are recovering at the hospital, you may receive the following care:
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.
Chest x-rays to monitor healing—The drainage chest tubes will be removed once your lungs are healed.
Instructions about nutrition and physical activity
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
Washing their hands
Wearing gloves or masks
Keeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the same
Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
Not allowing others to touch your incision
You will need to limit specific activities, but encouraged to walk daily. Follow instructions on wound care to prevent infection. Your doctor may advise pain medications to relieve discomfort. You may need to continue with deep breathing exercises to keep your lungs clear.
A patient’s guide to lung surgery: Recovering in the hospital. University of Southern California Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed February 2, 2015.
A patient’s guide to lung surgery: Recovering at home. University of Southern California Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed February 2, 2015.
A patient’s guide to lung surgery: When to call your doctor. University of Southern California Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed February 2, 2015.
Video-assisted thoracic surgery. Harvard Health Publications website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Updated August 11, 2014. Accessed February 2, 2015.
Video-assisted thorascopic surgery (VATS). Rush University Medical Center website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed March 8, 2010.
Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). Mayo Clinic website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Updated May 8, 2014. Accessed February 2, 2015.
6/6/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance ...(Click grey area to select URL) Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
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