Welcome to the comprehensive medical library of Anniston General Surgery Center. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

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Thoracoscopy (also known as video-assisted surgery, or VATS) is often used to repair a collapsed lung; to examine, biopsy, and stage a mass in the lung; or to drain fluid from around the lungs. During thoracoscopy, your surgeon can look into your chest and perform procedures through small incisions in the chest wall. If a thoracoscopy can't be continued, a thoracotomy (open procedure) may be necessary.

Preparing for Your Surgery

Image of man and woman

Incision sites
Possible incision sites

  • Ask your doctor any questions you have about the procedure.

  • Have blood tests or other tests that your doctor orders.

  • If you smoke, stop immediately.

  • Tell your doctor about any medications you're taking (including aspirin), and ask if you should stop them. Also mention any vitamins, herbs, or other supplements you take.

  • Don't eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery, or as directed.

  • Be sure to arrive at the hospital on time the day of your surgery.

The Surgical Procedure

  • The anesthesiologist gives you general anesthesia, which lets you sleep and keeps you free from pain during surgery. Once you're asleep, you're positioned comfortably on your side.

  • Several small incisions are made in your side.

  • The surgeon inserts a thin, tubelike instrument containing a tiny camera through one of the incisions. This camera allows the surgeon to view your lungs on a video monitor. Surgical instruments are inserted through the other incisions.

  • When the procedure is finished, one or more tubes may be temporarily placed in the chest to drain fluid and air. The incisions are then closed with sutures or staples.

Risks and Complications

  • Wound infection

  • Air leak through the lung wall, requiring a longer hospital stay

  • Bleeding

  • Pain or numbness at the incision site

  • Inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia)

Date Last Reviewed: 2005-08-05T00:00:00-06:00

Date Last Modified: 2009-12-08T00:00:00-07:00