Learn more about the benefits of VATS compared to traditional, open thoracotomy.


The traditional open thoracotomy requires rib spreading and a large 10 to 15 centimeter (4 to 6 inches) incision to gain access to view and treat the lungs. That causes disruption to muscles and ribs — and potentially more postoperative pain for your patients.([FOOTNOTE=Cleveland Clinic. Video-assisted lobectomy as a type of minimally invasive thoracic surgery. Cleveland Clinic Website. Accessed Dec. 2017.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=])


VATS allows you to access the treatment area using endoscopic instruments and endostaplers.1 The instruments can be inserted into the chest through small 2 to 4 centimeter (.75 to 1.5 inch) incisions made between the ribs. A high magnification scope allows you to view the cancerous lung tissue and effectively transect and remove the tissue.

Open Surgery vs. VATS

VATS offers numerous benefits over the traditional open approach in early stage lung cancer treatment.1,([FOOTNOTE=Ohtsuka, T, Nomori H, Horio H, Naruke T, Suemasu K. Is major pulmonary resection by video-assisted thoracic surgery an adequate procedure in clinical stage I lung cancer? Chest. 2004.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=])

The benefits of minimally invasive VATS include:

  • Less pain after the operation
  • Better immune system responseǂ
  • Better chance of breathing normally
  • Better quality of life

The table below details the differences between thoracotomy (traditional) versus VATS (minimally invasive). These results are typical — your patients’ results may vary.([FOOTNOTE=Cleveland Clinic. Lung Cancer Diseases and Conditions. Cleveland Clinic Website. Accessed Sept. 27, 2016.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=])

Compare Open Surgery vs. VATS
  Open Surgery VATS
Pain Incisions and your patients’ chest area may be painful for several weeks to months after surgery and sometimes longer.  
Incision Size One large incision 10–15 cm (4–6 in) One main incision 4–6 cm (1.5–2.4 in; usually 4.5 cm/1.8 in); multiple additional incisions, typically 2–4 cm (0.8–2.4 in)
Anesthesia General General
Eligibility Stages I–IIIA Stages I–IIIA
Length of Hospital Stay Up to 7 days 3–4 days

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  • ǂVATS 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.

    Pre-clinical results may not correlate with clinical performance in humans.