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Thoracoscopy is a procedure that allows internal examination, biopsy and surgical removal of the disease of the affected parts within the lungs, the area between the lungs (mediastinum) and the lining of the chest cavity and the membrane covering the lungs (pleura). The thoracoscopy procedure involves insertion of thin, flexible tube in the chest through small incisions. This tube is equipped with a small fibre optic camera that allows the doctors to carry out the visual examination for the indications of pleural mesothelioma or other diseases.
At times, the visual indications of the disease do not confirm the diagnosis of the disease. To confirm the diagnosis, doctors can also carry out a biopsy during the procedure and perform the surgery for the resection of the affected masses if required. There two kinds of thoracoscopy procedures commonly performed:
Surgical Thoracoscopy: This procedure requires the patient to be under general anaesthesia and is recommended when the thoracoscopic surgery has a dual purpose of diagnosis and treatment.
Medical Thoracoscopy: This procedure is far less invasive as compared to the surgical thoracoscopy, with only small incisions required to carry out the process. The only purpose of this procedure is to conduct the biopsy of the lungs, chest cavity or pleural cavity.
The indications for medical thoracoscopy treatment are:
The major indications for VATS include:
A thoracoscopic surgery does not take very long, with the procedure generally being completed between 45 and 90 minutes. General or local anaesthesia is administered to the patient depending on the nature of the procedure. Local anaesthesia is used if the procedure involves only thoracoscopic lung biopsy and general anaesthesia is administered when the procedure also includes surgical treatment. Doctors may also administer additional dosages if required. Some of the steps to be taken while preparing for a thoracoscopic surgery are:
Patients are generally kept under observation in the hospital for 2-3 days after the procedure to make sure there are no complications. While a thoracoscopic lung biopsy is generally carried out to identify the signs for pleural mesothelioma, other types of chest cancer can also be detected in the process.
Thoracoscopy can also be used to diagnose chest diseases which other procedures have failed to identify. The chest tubes inserted into the incisions must be kept in place for several days.
The risks associated with a thoracoscopic procedure include: