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Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery


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. You may have pain in your chest or shoulder for a few days after VATS. This is normal.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have trouble breathing.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have severe pain.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • Your wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • 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 as often as directed.
  • Walk several times per day. Start out with short walks around your house. If weather allows, walk outside. Slowly increase the time and distance you walk. Movement will help prevent blood clots. Movement also helps with lung function. Stop walking and rest if you have pain or shortness of breath.
  • Do not drive until your healthcare provider says it is okay.
  • Do not lift heavy objects for 6 weeks. Do lift anything heavier than a half gallon of milk.


You may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely.
  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Antibiotics help prevent infection caused by bacteria.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs that you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Wound care:

Care for your wound as directed. If you have steri strips they will fall off on their own. If they have not fallen off within 14 days, you may remove them. If you have stitches, you will need to return to have them removed. When you are allowed to bathe, carefully wash around the wound with soap and water. Gently pat the area dry. Check your incision for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, or pus.

Follow up with your healthcare provider in 7 to 10 days or as directed:

You may need to have stitches removed. You will need a chest x-ray. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.