Video-assisted lobectomy is a minimally invasive lung cancer surgery and the gold standard to remove tumors that are limited to one lobe of the lung. When detected in its earliest stages, lung cancer can often be effectively treated through surgical resection of the tumor and surrounding lymph nodes in the chest. While conventional lobectomy involves a large incision in the chest (thoracotomy) and cracking of the ribs to access the lungs, VATS lobectomy is performed through several small incisions with high-tech instruments and minimal tissue damage.
Compared with a standard lobectomy, the advantages of VATS lobectomy include: reduced post-operative pain, shorter hospital stay, lower risk of complications, improved post-operative pulmonary function, and faster overall recovery.
Unfortunately, to this day many thoracic surgeons are not fully trained in VATS lobectomy for early stage lung cancer treatment. At West Coast Thoracic Surgery, virtually every lung procedure performed by Dr. Mahtabifard and Dr. Fuller is done using the VATS technique. Our doctors have trained extensively in the use of VATS and are highly regarded as leaders in the field of minimally invasive thoracic surgery.
For more information on VATS lobectomy or to schedule your initial consultation, please call 310.854.0909.
Eligibility for VATS Lobectomy
When selecting an appropriate surgical resection procedure, it is critical to balance the need to resect as much of the tumor as possible with the goal to preserve as much healthy lung tissue as possible. Our doctors will carefully assess the stage and characteristics of your tumor as well as your general health to determine if VATS Lobectomy is right for you. Candidacy for a VATS lobectomy is determined by the following criteria:
- Cancer stage (Predominantly used for stage 1 lung cancer)
- Tumor Size (< 6 cm)
- Performance on a pulmonary function test
Contraindications for VATS lobectomy include large tumors (>6 cm) and chest wall or mediastinal invasion. The efficacy of VATS lobectomy for the resection of stage 2 lung cancer is a topic of debate. Clinical studies are currently underway to compare the treatment outcomes after VATS lobectomy with those after a conventional “open” technique.
The Video-Assisted Lobectomy Procedure
VATS Lobectomy is performed entirely through four small (~5 mm) incisions in the chest underneath the arm. While under general anesthesia, a thin fiber-optic camera is inserted into the chest, providing our surgeons with high-definition video feed from within the chest cavity throughout the entire procedure. Using video assistance, our surgeons meticulously locate and dissect the lobe of the lung with the tumor, as well as nearby lymph nodes and blood vessels that are supporting the tumor. The isolated lobe is then cut free from the lung, placed in a sterile bag, and removed from the body through a guide tube. Once the lobe and tumor have been resected, all instruments are removed from the body and the incisions are closed with sutures.
VATS Lobectomy should only be performed by a highly experienced thoracic surgeon with expertise in the video-assisted thoracic surgical technique. The procedure requires excellent video skills and knowledge of thoracic anatomy. One of the unique aspects of our practice is that both Ali Mahtabifard, MD and Clark Fuller, MD perform each VATS lobectomy in Los Angeles together to ensure the best results and to make sure that it is done in a timely fashion. Therefore, our patients enjoy the benefit of having two fully trained and experienced thoracic surgeons performing their operation.
What to Expect After Surgery
Recovery time following VATS Lobectomy varies from person to person. Most patients spend 1-3 days in the hospital, followed by up to a week of recovery at home before returning to daily activities. Routine follow-up appointments are critical after surgery to help ensure tumor remission.
After lung cancer surgery, some patients are recommended to undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation to help prevent the recurrence of cancer. The need for these adjuvant therapies is determined by the results of surgery and the specific tumor characteristics.
Contact a Los Angeles Thoracic Surgeon
West Coast Thoracic Surgery is a Los Angeles-based practice dedicated to the comprehensive treatment of benign and malignant conditions within the chest cavity. Directed by renowned thoracic surgeons Ali Mahtabifard, MD and Clark Fuller, MD, we provide state-of-the-art surgical care for lung cancer with expertise in minimally invasive (VATS) surgical techniques. Our surgeons have received extensive training in the treatment of lung cancer at some of the country’s most prestigious cancer institutions and hold distinguished positions at some of the region’s top medical centers.
If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer and would like to learn about treatment options or seek a second surgical opinion, please call 310.854.0909 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your initial consultation.
Next, read about TIF.