Thoracoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that allows your surgeon to see inside your chest cavity and make repairs without having to make large incisions. Thoracoscopy is also used to take small tissue samples for analysis, determine if cancer is spreading, and remove fluid from the lungs.
The most common reason for undergoing thoracoscopy is to diagnose and treat lung cancer. However, this procedure can also be used to treat other conditions such as pleural effusion (fluid buildup around the lungs), pneumothorax (collapsed lung), and mediastinal tumors (tumors in the center of the chest).
Before undergoing a thoracoscopy, you will undergo an examination and preoperative tests. These may include blood tests, a pulmonary function test (breathing test), computerized tomography (CT) scan, and an electrocardiogram (ECG).
Your surgeon will make two small incisions in your chest, one at the top of the breastbone and one near the bottom of the ribs. A thin tube with a light and camera attached (called a thoracoscope) will be inserted through one of these incisions. Carbon dioxide gas will be used to inflate your chest cavity so that your surgeon can get a clear view of your lungs.
Most patients go home later the same day as surgery. Recovery time is typically short, and you can expect to experience some pain and discomfort at the incision site. Pain medication will help manage any discomfort you may have. It is important to follow your surgeon’s instructions for postoperative care.
You should avoid strenuous activity for a few weeks following surgery, and it may take several months for all swelling and bruising around the incisions to disappear.
Thoracoscopy is considered a low-risk procedure with few complications. Some risks include