What is video assisted thoracic surgery?

VATS (video-assisted thoracic surgery) is a type of minimally invasive thoracic surgery of the chest, performed with a thoracoscope (small videoscope) using small incisions and special instruments to minimize trauma.

Other names for this procedure include thoracoscopy, thoracoscopic surgery or pleuroscopy, 

During thoracoscopic surgery, three small (approximately 1-inch) incisions are used, as compared with one long 6- to 8-inch chest incision that is used during traditional, "open" thoracic surgery. Surgical instruments and the thoracoscope are inserted through these small incisions. 

The thoracoscope transmits images of the operative area onto a computer monitor that is positioned next to the patient.

Types of VAT Surgeries

As compared with traditional surgery, patients who undergo minimally invasive surgery experience:

  • Decreased postoperative pain
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • More rapid recovery and return to work

Other possible benefits include reduced risk of infection and less bleeding.

Who is a candidate for minimally invasive surgery?

Almost all traditional thoracic surgeries can be performed using a minimally invasive technique.

If you need thoracic surgery, a minimally invasive surgical approach will first be considered. However, there are still some procedures that are best performed using a traditional, “open,” technique. Your surgeon will carefully evaluate you to determine the safest surgical approach to treat your medical condition.

Reviewed: 06/16