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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Thoracoscopy is a procedure to look inside your chest cavity with an endoscope. An endoscope is a narrow bendable tube that has a light source on the end. The end of the endoscope has a camera that may be attached to a video monitor. It is inserted into your chest through small incisions in the chest wall. Thoracoscopy may be done to diagnose or treat conditions of the lungs and pleura (thin lining covering the lungs).
WHILE YOU ARE HERE:
Before your procedure:
- 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.
- Anesthesia: This medicine is given to make you comfortable. You may not feel discomfort, pressure, or pain. An adult will need to drive you home and should stay with you for 24 hours. Ask your caregiver if you can drive or use machinery within 24 hours. Also ask if and when you can drink alcohol or use over-the-counter medicine. You may not want to make important decisions until 24 hours have passed.
- Pre-op care: You may be given medicine right before your procedure or surgery. This medicine may make you feel relaxed and sleepy. You are taken on a stretcher to the room where your procedure or surgery will be done, and then you are moved to a table or bed.
- Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.
During your procedure:
- An endotracheal (ET) tube may be put into your trachea (windpipe) through your mouth to help you breathe. The ET tube will be connected to a ventilator (breathing machine). You are placed on your side with your arm raised above your head. Two or 3 small incisions are made between your ribs. Caregivers insert an endoscope and other instruments into these small incisions.
- Your caregiver may use an ultrasound to clearly see the lesions that need to be examined or removed. Air will be taken out from one lung to give more space for your caregiver to see and work. A biopsy may be done on the lesion, or it may be completely removed. A tube will be placed in an incision to put medicines directly onto the lungs. A tube will also be placed in one of the incisions to allow fluids to drain. This tube will help your lungs fill back up with air after the procedure. The remaining incisions are closed with stitches.
After your procedure:
- You will be taken to a room where you can rest. Caregivers will check on you. When they see that you are okay, you may be allowed to go home. If you are staying in the hospital, you will be taken to your hospital room. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. A bandage is used to cover your stitches or staples. This bandage keeps the area clean and dry to help prevent infection. A caregiver may remove the bandage soon after your procedure to check the area.
- You may need extra oxygen 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 healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.
- Deep breathing: This exercise should be done once an hour to keep you from getting a lung infection. Deep breathing opens the tubes going to your lungs. Slowly take a deep breath and hold the breath as long as you can. Then let out your breath. Take 10 deep breaths in a row every hour while awake. You may be asked to use an incentive spirometer to help you with this. Put the plastic piece into your mouth and slowly take a breath as deep and as long as you can. Hold your breath as long as you can. Then, let out your breath.
- Drains: These are thin rubber tubes put into your skin to drain fluid from around your incision. The drains are taken out when the incision stops draining.
- Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
- Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
- Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
You may have an allergic reaction to the anesthesia medicine. You may get an infection or bleed more than expected. Your caregiver may need to make more incisions on your chest to stop the bleeding. You may get blood clots or have trouble breathing if the drains are pulled out accidentally. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. Without this procedure, the symptoms you have may become worse. Your condition may take longer to diagnose with other tests than it would with a thoracoscopy.
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.
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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.