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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).


The week before your procedure:

  • Arrange to have someone drive you home after your procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • An ultrasound and CT scan may be done to select a good entry site for the procedure. You may also need to have blood tests, an ECG, and chest x-ray. Tell your healthcare provider if you have had a procedure on your chest or have problems with blood clotting. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.

The night before your procedure:

  • You may be given medicine to help you sleep.
  • Ask healthcare providers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your procedure:

  • Ask your healthcare provider 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. Providers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
  • Your healthcare provider may give you an IV injection of a radioactive dye 1 to 2 hours before your procedure. This will help him clearly see your lung or pleural lesion during the procedure.
  • Healthcare providers 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 healthcare providers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers 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.


What will happen:

  • You will be given a local or general anesthesia to control pain during the 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 will be placed on your side with your arm raised above your head.
  • Two or 3 small incisions will be made between your ribs. Healthcare providers will insert an endoscope and other instruments into these small incisions. He may use an ultrasound immediately after the instruments are inserted. Air will be taken out from one lung to give more space for your healthcare provider to see and work. A tube will 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 will be closed with stitches.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room where you can rest. Healthcare providers 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 healthcare provider says it is okay. A bandage will be used to cover your stitches or staples. This bandage keeps the area clean and dry to help prevent infection. A healthcare provider may remove the bandage soon after your procedure to check the area.


  • You cannot make it to your procedure on time.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a skin infection or an infected wound near the area where the procedure will be done.
  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • The problems for which you are having the procedure get worse.
  • You have sudden shortness of breath.


You may have an allergic reaction to the anesthesia medicine. You may get an infection or bleed more than expected. Your healthcare provider 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 healthcare providers 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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.