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Our surgeons have pioneered the use of minimally invasive surgery for lung cancer. This minimally invasive technique appears to reduce the hospital stay and allows a patient to return to full activities without compromising the adequacy of the cancer operation.
A thoracotomy (the standard incision for lung surgery) entails a six- to eight-inch incision around the side under the arm. Chest wall muscles are cut, and the ribs are spread. These incisions usually cause significant pain.
Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS)
VATS is a minimally invasive technique that uses small incisions and eliminates the need to spread the ribs. During VATS, the surgery is performed through a one-inch incision and is aided by a miniature camera inserted through one of the three 1/4 to 1/2" incisions. The VATS approach is certainly not painless, but it does hurt less than a large thoracotomy. The average hospitalization after the operation is four days, and patients usually do not require a stay in the intensive care unit.
Our thoracic surgeons have performed more than 1400 lung cancer operations with this approach since 1992. We recently published the case follow-up, which demonstrated that the procedure is as effective as the more invasive approach.