A lobectomy is the surgical removal of a large section of lung. Lobectomy is the most common surgery performed to treat lung cancer. During thoracic surgery, an incision is made on the side of the chest between the ribs. The ribs are then spread apart so the surgeon can see into the chest cavity and remove the tumor or affected tissue. This minimally invasive procedure may be aided by the da Vinci robot.
Video-assisted lobectomy is less invasive than traditional thoracotomy. During VATS lobectomy, three 1-3 inch incisions and one 3-4 inch incision are made in the chest to provide access to the chest cavity without spreading of the ribs.
During a video-assisted lobectomy, a thorascope (small video camera) and surgical instruments are inserted into the incisions. The thoracic surgeon is guided by the images of the operative area transmitted from the thorascope while performing the lobectomy. The images are projected onto a computer monitor that is positioned next to the patient.
Patients who have video-assisted lobectomy generally experience less pain and have a quicker recovery than those who have traditional thoracotomy surgery. Other possible benefits include reduced risk of infection and less bleeding. Most patients are able to be discharged the day of their surgery or within the next two days.
The best candidates for video-assisted lobectomy include patients with stage I non-small cell lung cancer (in the first or second stage of cancer that has not spread beyond the lungs) or patients who have a single enlarging pulmonary nodule.
Patients can expect to stay in the hospital for approximately 1 to 3 days after surgery.