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Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery

The Center for Thoracic Surgery at Baylor University Medical Center leads the field in minimally invasive thoracic surgery. Using small incisions and less traumatic techniques, patient recovery is greatly improved.

Some of the benefits of minimally invasive thoracic surgery include:

  • Faster recovery and return to normal activities
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Lessened pain and decreased need for pain medications
  • Improved cosmesis
  • Diminished blood loss

Our surgeons at the Center for Thoracic Surgery at Baylor University Medical Center use video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) and robot-assisted technology to approach most tumors in the chest and abdomen.

Minimally Invasive Techniques:

Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS)

This technique involves inserting a surgical camera (thoracoscope) through a small incision between the ribs. Once inside the chest, the surgeon has the ability to inspect the entire chest cavity. Specially designed instruments are inserted through similar “key-hole” incisions called “ports”, to allow the surgeon to manipulate the lung and other structures and remove areas of concern. Narrow surgical staplers can be inserted through these ports to obtain biopsies and remove portions of the lung. Tissue is then placed into a specially designed retrieval bag and removed through the same ports, avoiding need for conventional large incisions.

Robotic thoracic surgery

Surgeons at Baylor University Medical Center perform select surgery of the chest and abdomen using the Intuitive da Vinci® Surgical System. This technique allows exceptional control of instruments and superior visibility using 3-D visualization technology. The surgeon controls the robot’s movements from a console in the operating room next the patient. The improved visualization and dexterity allows our surgeons to perform complex procedures that were previously only possible through large incisions. Your surgeon will discuss with you whether you are a candidate for robotic surgery.

Lung Cancer

In the past, surgeons needed to spread between the ribcage and make large incisions to remove lung cancers. However, technology and surgical technique has evolved that allow equivalent operations to be performed through small incisions and without rib spreading. Surgical procedures for lung cancer are grouped into the following categories.

  • Wedge resection: Removal of the tumor along with a rim of normal tissue surrounding the cancer. Most appropriate for very small tumors that are located peripherally (toward the surface of the lung).
  • Lobectomy: Removal of the entire lobe of the lung that contains the cancer. There are three lobes that compose the right lung and two that compose the left lung. The artery, vein and airway (bronchus) of the lobe are dissected out and divided and drainage basins of the lung (lymph nodes) removed. This is the standard operation for most lung cancers and in most circumstances, lobectomy provides the best likelihood that the tumor will not return (recur).
  • Segmentectomy: Removal of the anatomic portion of a lung called a segment. Each lobe is composed of smaller segments. This also involves a systematic approach to the artery, vein and airway supplying the segment of lung harboring the cancer with the removal of lymph nodes. A segmentectomy is appropriate for smaller tumors.
  • Pneumonectomy: Removal of the entire lung. Performed only when other lung sparing techniques are not possible.

Your surgeon will discuss which option is best for you dependent on the location and size of your tumor, what other medical conditions you have and how good your lung function is.

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