With this approach, a surgeon removes all or part of a lung through a large incision on one side of the chest.
Thoracotomy is a more traditional open surgery approach and was the only surgical option to treat lung cancer — until more advanced medical techniques and equipment were popularized in the 1990s.2
VATS allows your surgeon to access and remove your cancer in a minimally invasive manner. Your surgeon will utilize 1-4 small incisions (2-6 cm) between the ribs to insert a camera and advanced instruments. The scope provides a magnified view, which allows the surgeon to identify the cancerous lung tissue and remove it from the body.
* VATS is associated with reduced cytokine production. Cytokines regulate the immune system. And certain cytokines associated with the body’s inflammatory response have been linked to a better lung cancer prognosis when they are at lower levels.3
Unlike open surgery, VATS doesn’t require rib spreading, so it’s a less invasive procedure. Long-term survival rates with VATS are equal to open thoracotomy for early stage NSCLC and some recent data suggest that the survival may be better. 3,5
|Compare Open Surgery vs Minimally Invasive6
|Thoracotomy (traditional open)
|VATS (minimally invasive)
|Incisions and your chest area may be painful for several weeks to months after surgery
|While pain in the hospital will still occur, it is usually less than that experienced with a thoracotomy
|One large incision 10-15 cm
|One main incision 4-6 cm (usually 4.5 cm); multiple additional incisions, typically 2-4 cm
|Length of hospital stay