Thoracic Minimally Invasive and Video-Assisted Surgery (VATS)
Minimally invasive thoracic surgery is also known by the name VATS (short for video-assisted thoracic surgery). Utilizing specially-adapted, videoendoscopic instruments, VATS is used for a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and involves smaller incisions in the chest wall without the need to spread the ribs to gain access to the lungs or esophagus. In selected patients, most procedures that can be done through a standard incision can also be performed with VATS. Benefits for patients include less postoperative pain, shorter hospital stays, faster recovery from surgery, and a quicker return to full activity.
Some of the more common diseases being treated with VATS by our surgical staff include:
- Emphysema — During Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (LVRS), one incision permits access of the viewing instrument (thoracoscope). Forceps and a surgical stapling instrument are used to remove the affected tissue through two other incisions.
- Interstitial Lung Disease — The diagnosis of interstitial lung disease has become significantly more accurate as a result of VATS. Multiple areas of the lung can be biopsied and scanned to determine the presence of this disorder without the need for a large incision.
- Lung Cancer — VATS is used frequently to assist in the diagnosis, staging, and treatment of lung cancer. In addition to aiding in the diagnosis of pulmonary nodules, VATS can significantly reduce the morbidity associated with the traditional surgical removal of lung nodules.
- Myasthenia Gravis — VATS is used to remove the thymus gland through incisions under the arm. Columbia surgeons also perform transcervical thymectomy, a minimally invasive procedure in which the thymus is removed through a small incision in the lower part of the neck.
- Spontaneous Pneumothorax — VATS affords better visualization of the entire lung surface in patients with spontaneous pneumonthorax (collapsed lungs). Patients who receive this procedure also experience less postoperative pain than traditional surgical methods.
For Physicians: Minimally Invasive Radical Thymectomy
See video and article in Annals of Cardiothoracic Surgery, January 2016
By Drs. Gopal Singh, Jason Glotzbach, Joseph Costa, Lyall Gorenstein, Mark Ginsburg, and Joshua R. Sonett