Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS)

What is video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS)?

If you have a medical problem that involves your chest, your doctor may need to get a closer look in order to make the best diagnosis or to treat your condition. Main Line Health offers video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) to diagnose and treat problems in your chest.

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery can be used in procedures such as:

  • Biopsy to diagnose chest cancers, including lung cancer
  • Esophagus surgery
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) surgery
  • Hiatal hernia repair
  • Lung surgery
  • Surgery for mediastinal tumors
  • Thymectomy (surgery to remove the thymus gland)

VATS is a minimally invasive surgical technique, meaning you experience less pain and a shorter recovery time than traditional surgery.

What to expect from video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS)

During video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, a very small incision is made in your chest, between your ribs, and a thin tube called a thoracoscope is inserted. The thoracoscope has a camera on the end to help the surgeon see inside your chest wall during the surgery. The camera sends the picture to a monitor in the operating room where your surgical team can view the process together.

Other small incisions are made in your chest where tiny surgical instruments are inserted and used to complete the surgery. Depending on the type of surgery you are having, certain tissue may be removed through these same small incisions, if needed.

After your surgery is complete, your surgeon will close the small incisions with stitches. Your recovery from video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery depends on the type of surgery you had. Some patients may go home the same day, while others will need to stay in the hospital for up to five days. Talk to your doctor about your specific surgery and recovery time.


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