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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 AgreementYou 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.
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.
The week before your surgery:
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
- Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
- You may need blood tests before your surgery. You may also need a chest x-ray, EKG, or pulmonary function test. Talk to your caregiver about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.
The night before your surgery:
- Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
- You may be given medicine to help you sleep.
The day of your surgery:
- Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
- Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
- An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
What will happen:
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.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot make it to your surgery.
- You have a fever.
- You get a cold or the flu.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery.
Seek Care Immediately if
- Your symptoms get worse.
- You have sudden trouble breathing.
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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.