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Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS)

A major advance in lung cancer surgery is a minimally invasive approach called video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), which is quickly becoming the standard of lung cancer care.

While conventional thoracotomy (lung surgery) requires a six to eight inch incision, spreading of the ribs, and possibly severing muscles, VATS is a minimally invasive procedure that requires only four small incisions without rib spreading or muscle damage.

Through these small openings, surgical instruments and a thoracoscope with a small camera lens are inserted, producing high-resolution images on a video monitor that provides the VATS surgeon with a detailed, magnified view of the surgical site. A segment, lobe or entire lung can be removed through a VATS procedure, depending on the patient’s condition and extent of cancer.

About 75 percent of lung cancer patients are candidates for this minimally invasive procedure. This procedure is especially beneficial for patients who may otherwise have been considered inoperable due to their age, or other complicating medical conditions.

Benefits of VATS

The minimally invasive VATS technique offers clear advantages over the open-chest traditional thoracotomy procedure, including:

  • Small, keyhole incisions
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Less risk of post-operative complications
  • Faster recovery time

Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) provides a safe, minimally invasive approach to lung cancer care. Additionally, VATS has been shown to result in cancer survival rates that are equal to, or better than, traditional open procedures, which is why it’s the preferred surgical treatment option at Hoag Family Cancer Institute.

Candidates for VATS

Individuals with localized, early stages of lung cancer are optimal candidates for surgery, and specifically the VATS procedure. Additionally, older patients (particularly those with complex medical conditions) tend to tolerate the VATS procedure much better than the open, traditional procedure. However, candidates still must be physically strong enough to tolerate surgery.

Individuals with regionally advanced stages of lung disease can often be treated aggressively with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy in an effort to shrink the cancer enough to make it surgically resectable.

Experience You Can Trust!

Hoag Lung Cancer Program’s commitment to accurate diagnosis, combined with progressive therapeutic options enables Hoag patients to achieve some of the highest clinical outcomes in the nation.

To learn more about Hoag's top rated Lung Cancer Program, visit:

For more about Hoag Lung Cancer Program, or to schedule a second-opinion consultation with a Hoag lung cancer expert, please call 949-7-CANCER (722-6237).