Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS).

Developed in the early 1990's, this minimally-invasive technique has been demonstrated to be highly effective while dramatically improving a patient's operative experience - reducing operative times and hospitalization and shortening time to recovery.

Patients undergoing VATS have far fewer complications than traditional open-chest surgery patients and usually avoid severe chronic chest wall pain, a common problem with conventional open thoracotomy (incision into the chest). VATS patients rarely require intensive care, and most patients are able to eat and walk on the day of surgery. Many patients can go home within two days and return to full activity within two weeks. This is a dramatic improvement over traditional chest surgery, which usually requires a 7-10 day hospital stay and a 6-8 week recovery time.

In traditional chest surgery via open thoracotomy, the surgeon makes a large incision - approximately 10 to 14 inches - and spreads/cuts the ribs in order to operate inside the chest cavity. By contrast, with VATS the surgeon makes a small - approximately one-inch - incision and inserts an endoscope (a tiny telescope connected to a video camera) thus giving the surgeon a magnified view of the patient's internal chest cavity on a video monitor. Guided by that image, the surgeon then can perform a full range of chest surgery proce-dures working with instruments through other small incisions.