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A Less Invasive Lung Cancer Surgery

VATS procedure

For patients with early stage lung cancer, surgical removal of the lobe in which the tumor is located (lobectomy) offers the best chance of a cure. Until recently, the standard procedure has been to make a six-inch inch incision in the chest and spread the ribs apart with a retractor to give the surgeon a clearer view of the chest cavity and tumor.

Now, lobectomy can be performed using video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), a cutting-edge approach that is considerably less invasive. In lieu of one large chest incision, VATS is performed by inserting a small video camera and surgical instruments through a series of smaller incisions. As a result, lobectomy can be accomplished without spreading the rib cage, and patients experience less post-operative pain. Video captured from inside the chest is transmitted onto a computer monitor in the operating room. A cardiothoracic surgeon with specialized training in video imaging uses the monitor as a guide to complete the procedure.

"With VATS lobectomy, there is a measurable difference in the time it takes for patients to feel back to normal," says cardiothoracic surgeon John R. Garrett, MD. "They go home sooner, experience less chest pain, have fewer complications post-op, and their chest tubes come out sooner."

Lung cancer survival rates following VATS lobectomy are comparable to those for individuals who have undergone traditional lobectomy; however, VATS is offered only by a limited number of elite medical centers due to the advanced video and thoracic surgical skills that are required.Not all lung cancer patients are candidates for VATS lobectomy. The procedure may not be appropriate in cases involving large tumors, or tumors that are attached to the chest wall.

For more information about the Lung Cancer Center, call 703.558.8525.
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