Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is a minimally invasive surgical technique that is used to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions within the chest cavity. Compared with traditional thoracic procedures, the VATS technique offers considerable benefits to patients.

Led by renowned thoracic surgeons Ali Mahtabifard, MD and Clark Fuller, MD, MD, West Coast Thoracic Surgery is devoted to the use of cutting-edge surgical techniques to treat a variety of thoracic conditions. Dr. Mahtabifard and Dr. Fuller have undergone extensive training at some of the country’s most prestigious medical institutions and have combined over 25 years of experience in minimally invasive thoracic surgery. To schedule your initial consultation with an expert thoracic surgeon or to learn more about video-assisted thoracic surgery, contact our office at 310.854.0909.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery

Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery Los Angeles

Before minimally invasive thoracic techniques were developed, surgeons relied on large open thoracotomies to access the chest cavity. Thoracotomy requires a large incision in the chest, breaking and spreading of multiple ribs, and extensive tissue damage in order to simply reach the inner chest cavity. VATS, on the other hand, is performed with the use of high-tech camera-equipped instruments through a few small incisions in the chest. There is no breaking or spreading of the ribs using VATS. Unfortunately, to this day many surgeons are not fully trained in advanced VATS techniques, especially VATS lobectomy which is the gold standard for early stage lung cancer treatment.

The advantages of VATS for patients are substantial, and for this reason our surgeons utilize minimally invasive thoracic surgery virtually all of the time. Benefits include:

  • Reduced scarring
  • Decreased post-operative pain
  • Shorter length of hospital stay
  • Lower risk of complications
  • Better overall surgical outcomes
  • Reduced immunosupression following surgery

What Does Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS) Involve?

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery is performed by both Dr. Mahtabifard and Dr. Fuller, along with a highly trained team of surgical staff and anesthesiologists. Under general anesthesia, three or four small incisions (1-2 cm) are made in the chest cavity and a tiny camera called a thoracoscope is inserted between the ribs and into the chest. This instrument transmits live video feed from within the chest to monitors in the operating room, which our surgeons can view throughout the entire surgery. Additional instruments are inserted through the other incisions to carry out the specific procedure. The incisions remain small and the ribs are never broken and/or spread. Therefore there is much less pain post-operatively and the recovery following VATS is much easier for patients compared to traditional “open” surgery. Once complete, the instruments and camera are removed and the incisions are closed with sutures.

How We Use The VATS Technique

Atlas of Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery Los AngelesAs leading experts in the field of minimally invasive thoracic surgery, Dr. Mahtabifard and Dr. Fuller bring an unparalleled level of knowledge and skill in the use of video-assisted thoracoscopic techniques. In fact, Dr. Mahtabifard is one of the main editors and author of the internationally-acclaimed textbook Atlas of Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery (VATS).

One of the unique aspects of our practice is that during almost every operation, both of our surgeons perform the surgery together. Having two surgeons rather than one helps to minimize the risk of problems during surgery and ensures that our patients receive the safest care possible. While many medical centers still rely heavily on the more invasive thoracotomy approach, our surgeons are able to treat a wide variety of thoracic conditions with advanced VATS techniques, including:

  • Lobectomy and mediastinal lymph node dissection for Lung Cancer
  • Wedge resection for Solitary Pulmonary Nodules
  • Wedge resection for pulmonary metastases
  • Pneumonectomy for Lung Cancer
  • Esophageal Mobilization for Esophageal Cancer
  • Thymectomy for Myasthenia Gravis
  • Decortication for Empyema (infection within the pleural space)
  • Lung Volume Reduction Surgery for Emphysema
  • Talc pleurodesis for recurrent benign or malignant pleural effusions
  • Insertion of Pleurex Catheters for recurrent effusions
  • Bleb resection and mechanical pleurodesis for recurrent pneumothoraces
  • Thoracic Sympathectomy for Hyperhidrosis (Excessive sweating)
  • First Rib Resection for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Heller Myotomy for Achalasia

Contact an Expert Thoracic Surgeon in Los Angeles

West Coast Thoracic Surgery is a Los Angeles-based practice dedicated to the comprehensive treatment of diseases and conditions within the chest cavity. Led by renowned thoracic surgeons Ali Mahtabifard, MD and Clark Fuller, MD,  we utilize advanced medical knowledge and minimally invasive technology to provide high quality, patient-centered care.

To learn more about our treatment approach to a specific thoracic procedure such as a VATS lobectomy, or to schedule your initial consultation with a Los Angeles thoracic surgeon, please call 310.854.0909 or fill out our online contact form.

Next, read about VATS lobectomy.