Thoracoscopy, or Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS), is a minimally invasive technique that can be used to diagnose or treat problems in your chest. VATS is used by Riverview Cardiac Surgery to perform a myriad of procedures that range from taking a routine biopsy to the surgical removal tumors or pulmonary lobes.

In a VATS procedure, a small camera called a thoracoscope is inserted into the chest through tiny incisions. Your doctor will also insert small surgical instruments into the incisions. Your surgeon is guided through the procedure by a video monitor that displays the images captured by the thoracoscope.

Image of a Lung during a VATS Procedure

Image of a Lung during a VATS Procedure


Thoracoscopy involves the internal examination, biopsy and/or surgical removal of disease tissue or tumor masses from the lungs or chest wall. Before your procedure, your doctor will go over with you the exact details of what your thoracoscopy will include.

Prior to surgery, your doctor will likely recommend:

  • X-rays
  • Blood and urine analysis
  • Medication
  • Lifestyle changes (special diet, quitting smoking, etc.)

You may receive general anesthesia or local sedation prior to your thoracoscopy. This will depend on the specific goals of your procedure, overall general health and personal preference.


VATS holds several advantages over traditional thoracic surgery for the patient that make it an appealing option for treatment.

Patients that have a thoracoscopy typically experience a more rapid recovery time and less post-operative pain over traditional surgery. The tiny incisions require light dressings.

Your specific recovery time from thoracoscopy depends upon which operation was done. If a lung resection is performed, or if a chest tube is placed, the patient must remain in the hospital for three to five days until drainage from the chest tube diminishes, and any air leak from the lung has healed.

Most patients who do not receive lung resections may return home the same day and may not require a chest drain.

When the you go home, your doctor will ask you not to operate a motor vehicle or heave machinery for until pain medication is no longer necessary – about one week.

Your Choice is Clear
Riverview Cardiac Surgery have been trusted by more than 10,000 patients to perform surgery for diseases of the lungs and heart. Call to schedule an appointment.