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A VATS lobectomy is performed through 3-4 small incisions without spreading the ribs.
The broad experience and highly specialized training of Stanford’s thoracic surgeons allows them to offer you two complex thoracic surgical procedures that are not widely available but that are critical to providing the lowest possible complication rates and highest cure rates following lung cancer surgery. These procedures are video-assisted thoracic surgical (VATS) lobectomy and sleeve lobectomy.
Lobectomy in most hospitals is performed exclusively by thoracotomy. This means that the ribs are spread apart to provide access to the chest, and this rib spreading and cutting of muscle is associated with a significant amount of discomfort after surgery.
VATS lobectomy allows surgeons to carry out exactly the same operation within the chest that is performed by thoracotomy, but it is done through 3-4 small incisions without rib spreading rather than the large incision with rib spreading that a thoracotomy entails. The surgeon gains his view inside the chest from a small video camera inserted through one of the small incisions, and the procedure is carried out with long instruments passed through the other small incisions.
Patients who have undergone VATS lobectomy have less pain and recover faster from surgery. In general, VATS lobectomy is an option only for patients with stage 1 lung cancer.