Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS)
The standard open surgical approaches to the thoracic spine usually involve creating a large opening in the chest wall. Video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), is a minimally invasive (keyhole) surgical procedure. It allows the surgeon to directly examine the chest cavity without a big incision. Three or four small incisions will be made to allow the surgeon to use the special instruments (video camera and endoscope) needed for this operation. A very small video camera is used to project pictures of the chest cavity onto a screen during the procedure.
VATS avoids the extensive damage to the chest wall. Specific tools and implant systems permit the spine surgeon to remove thoracic discs. This procedure is also used to biopsy vertebral masses/tumors, release scoliosis curves, and graft bone disc spaces.