VATS Procedure

UVA's thoracic surgeons perform the minimally invasive video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) lobectomy removal of lung cancers whenever possible. For patients with early-stage small cell lung cancer, we are able to do this in over 95% of cases.

UVA is one of the most experienced hospitals in the Mid-Atlantic in performing the VATs procedure. We use it for 50 to 60 percent of our lung cancer surgeries. VATS can also be used for other procedures, such as removing mediastinal tumors and cysts, benign esophageal tumors, thymectomies for small tumors and myasthenia gravis.

How It Works

During VATS lobectomy, the surgeon makes two or three small incisions, none larger than 5 cm, to remove the tumor. Then, a tiny camera (called a thorascope) is inserted into the chest. This camera transmits images to a video screen. The surgical team uses these images to guide them through the procedure.

The smaller incisions help reduce the recovery time and the length of the hospital stay. A typical VATS lobectomy patient has a hospital stay of three days, compared with five or six days for a patient who has traditional lung cancer surgery.

The result: an equally effective procedure with much less discomfort for the patient.

Who is a Candidate for VATS?

At UVA, we evaluate each patient to determine whether or not surgery is an appropriate treatment method. Sometimes, patients will have radiation and/or chemotherapy first and then surgery will be considered.

A VATS lobectomy is an option for most patients with Stage I and II lung cancer and selected patients with Stage IIA lung cancer. Patients who've had previous chest surgery, including lung or heart surgery, can still be considered for VATS.

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.