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Circle Health Group

Thoracoscopic surgery (VATS procedure)

A thoracoscopy is the procedure to examine your pleural space with a special telescope. You may need one if you have chest pain and shortness of breath.

What is a thoracoscopy?

A thoracoscopy is a procedure that examines the space between your lungs and ribcage (called the pleural space) using a special telescope. A thoracoscopy is carried in order to determine the cause of any chest symptoms you might have.

A thoracoscopy, or pleurodesis, is also performed to treat a pleural effusion (where there is too much fluid in the pleural space) or a pneumothorax (where air escapes into the pleural space) that may cause your lung to collapse.

Ahead of the thoracoscopy you might undergo various tests such as: 

  • pulmonary function tests
  • chest x-ray
  • electrocardiography 

What does the procedure involve?

Your doctor will give you a sedative to help you relax. A thoracoscopy is sometimes performed under a general anaesthetic. A thoracoscopy usually takes about three-quarters of an hour.

If local anaesthetic is applied you will feel a little sting when the consultant injects it in the area. The consultant will then make small incisions on the side of your chest and insert the thoracoscope, a small, flexible tube through it. After inspecting the lung and pleura, the surgeon will remove any necessary tissue or fluid.

After the investigation is complete, the lung is re-expanded and the incisions are stitched to close the wound. A small tube might be placed there to drain any remaining air or fluid.

What complications can appear?

This is generally a safe procedure, however certain complications may arise such as:

  • Pain
  • Breathlessness
  • Bleeding
  • Infection in the pleural space
  • Allergic reaction
  • Surgical emphysema
  • Pulmonary oedema
  • Pneumothorax

After the procedure your chest will remain sore for a while, but that can be managed with painkillers.

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after you have recovered from the sedative. A member of the healthcare team will tell you what was found during the thoracoscopy and will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need. You should be able to go back to work between one and five days after the thoracoscopy, but your consultant will advise you according to your situation.

Specialists Offering Thoracoscopic surgery (VATS procedure)

Dr Rahul Mogal

Consultant in Respiratory and General Medicine


BMI The Princess Margaret Hospital 1 more BMI Bishops Wood Hospital

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Mr Kulvinder Singh Lall

Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon


BMI The London Independent Hospital

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Mr Alex Shipolini

Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon


BMI The London Independent Hospital

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Mr Piotr Krysiak

Consultant Thoracic Surgeon


BMI The Alexandra Hospital

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Mr Hazem B Fallouh

Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon


BMI The Priory Hospital

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Dr Deepak Rao

Consultant Respiratory & General Internal Physician

MRCP (Respiratory Medicine), MRCP, DNB, MBBS

BMI The Blackheath Hospital

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