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Video-assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS)

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What is VATS?

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) uses small incisions to insert a camera in the chest. This allows the doctor to see the lungs or esophagus.

In open surgeries, doctors perform a thoracotomy. This requires a large cut in the chest and around the back. The surgeon then spreads the ribs apart to see inside the chest.

Using VATS, doctors only need to make small cuts. The camera gives the surgeon visibility to do the procedure without having to spread the ribs.

The experts at the UPMC Esophageal and Lung Surgery Institute have vast skill with video- and robot-assisted surgeries. We use VATS in many minimally invasive lung and esophageal procedures.

Our goal — with any treatment — is to help you return to your normal routine as soon as possible.

Benefits of Video-assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery

Less invasive techniques like VATS have many benefits, including:

  • Less scarring
  • Lower risk of complications
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery

Our surgeons often use VATS during minimally invasive:

Robotic VATS for Lung and Esophageal Diseases

Our surgeons also use VATS in robotic lung and esophageal surgeries.

During a robotic procedure, the surgeon:

  • Inserts a camera and surgical tools through small incisions.
  • Sits at a console with a high-definition 3D screen and controls the surgical tools.

The robot gives the surgeon greater precision and visibility during the procedure. He or she is always in control of every movement the robotic surgical system makes.

VATS: What to Expect During Minimally Invasive Lung and Esophageal Procedures

Your doctor will give you details about how to prepare for your type of minimally invasive surgery.

When you arrive for the procedure, you will receive general anesthesia and sleep throughout surgery.

During minimal surgery using VATS, your surgeon will:

  • Make two or more small openings in your chest.
  • Insert a small telescope in one opening and surgical tools in the other.
  • View your lungs or esophagus through a camera connected to the telescope. This provides a more detailed diagnosis and guides him or her throughout surgery.

Once complete, the surgeon will close all incisions and a member of the surgical team will move you to a recovery room.