A thoracoscopy is a procedure that utilizes an endoscope to examine the pleura, lungs and mediastinum, and to obtain tissue for testing purposes. This procedure is done to assess lung cancer, take a biopsy for study, determine the cause of fluid in the chest cavity, introduce medications or other treatments directly into the lungs, and to treat accumulated fluids in the space around the lungs. This procedure is sometimes done as an alternative to a thoracotomy.
This is an inpatient procedure using general anesthesia. The surgeon will make several, small incisions in your side and insert a thoroscope containing a tiny camera through one of the incisions. The surgical instruments are inserted through the other incisions. The lung to be examined is deflated to create a space between the chest wall and the lung. The patient breathes with the other lung as well as with assistance from a ventilator. Using the camera as a guide, the surgeon takes tissue samples and reinflates the lung.
The surgeon closes the incisions except for one in which a chest tube is inserted to drain fluid and air from the incision site. The chest tube will remain for several days, and your hospital stay will typically range from two to five days. Medications for pain are given as needed, and you will have restrictions on lifting and other activities for several weeks.