There are over 200,000 diagnosed cases of lung cancer (LC) each year in the United States. While the incidence rate has declined since 1991, the disease remains the leading cause of cancer-related death. When the condition is detected in stage 1 (i.e. localized within the lung), it can be treated successfully. By the time cancerous cells have metastasized and spread to distant lymph nodes, it becomes more difficult to contain.
In the past, the disease was treated through thoracotomy (also known as open chest surgery). The patient’s thoracic cavity was accessed by the surgeon after a long incision was made into the chest. The breastbone was cut and the ribs were spread to provide working space. Because the ribs have limited flexibility, the procedure occasionally resulted in fractures. To resolve this issue, thoracic surgeons began to remove portions of the patient’s ribcage.
Today, minimally invasive techniques are often used to treat lung cancer. Once of these techniques is a VATS lobectomy. This article will provide an overview of the procedure and describe what to expect during recovery.
How is The Operation Performed?
A lobectomy is the surgical removal of a lobe (i.e. section of a lung). It is one of the most common procedures done today to treat early-stage LC. With a VATS lobectomy, four incisions are made into the sides of the patient’s chest. Three of the four incisions typically measure less than a single inch. The fourth incision may measure up to a few inches. There is no need to cut through the sternum or spread the ribs. The entire procedure is performed through these smaller incisions.
The surgeon will insert a thoracoscope and a few other surgical instruments through the incisions. The thoracoscope is equipped with a small light and camera. The camera transmits images back to …