Video-assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is surgery to look at your lung with a scope. A scope is a long tube with a camera on the end. VATS is usually done to diagnose or treat conditions of the lungs and pleura (thin lining covering the lungs). These conditions include infections, cancer, and too much air or fluid in the chest cavity.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Your ribs or nerves may be damaged during surgery. You may have shoulder pain after surgery. Your heart may beat fast or with an irregular rhythm. You may develop pneumonia or respiratory failure. This can be life-threatening. Without surgery, your symptoms may get worse. Your caregiver may not be able to find the cause of your condition.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

  • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.

During your surgery:

Two or 3 small incisions will be made between your ribs. Your surgeon will insert a scope and other small instruments through these incisions. Your lung will be deflated (air removed) to show the inside of your chest. Your surgeon may remove a sample of tissue or a mass from your lung. He may also remove a portion of the lung if needed. A chest tube will be placed to drain extra fluid and air from around your lung. This will help your lung fill with air. Your chest tube will be removed once your lung is fully inflated and all extra air or fluid is removed. Your incisions will be closed with stitches or medical glue.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.

  • Extra oxygen may be needed if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your caregiver before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

  • A chest tube removes air and extra fluid from around your lung. This lets your lung fill up with air when you breathe. The chest tube is attached to a container to collect the air or fluid. Call a caregiver right away if the tube comes apart from the container. Let the caregiver know if the tubing gets bent, twisted, or the tape comes loose.

  • Deep breathing and coughing will decrease your risk for a lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath. Then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour.

  • You may need to walk around the same day of surgery , or the day after. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed on your own until your caregiver says you can. Talk to caregivers before you get up the first time. They may need to help you stand up safely. When you are able to get up on your own, sit or lie down right away if you feel weak or dizzy. Then press the call light button to let caregivers know you need help.

  • Medicines:

    • Pain medicine may be given to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

    • Antibiotics help prevent infection caused by bacteria.

    • Antinausea medicine helps calm your stomach and prevents vomiting.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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