This page will give you information about a thoracoscopy. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is a thoracoscopy?

A thoracoscopy is a procedure to look for any problems in the pleural space (the space between the outside lining of your lungs and the inside of the ribcage) (see figure 1).



A pleurodesis can be performed at the same time to treat a pleural effusion (where there is too much fluid in the pleural space) or a pneumothorax (where air escapes into the pleural space) or a pneumothorax (where air escapes into the pleural space) that may cause your lung to collapse.

Are there any alternatives to a thoracoscopy?

An x-ray or scan can give some information. Occasionally a biopsy can be performed by passing a needle through the chest.

What does the procedure involve?

Your doctor will give you a sedative to help you relax.

A thoracoscopy is sometimes performed under a general anaesthetic.

A thoracoscopy usually takes about three-quarters of an hour. It involves making a hole in your chest wall and then placing a telescope into the hole (see figure 1). Your doctor will look carefully for problems and perform any biopsies.

What complications can happen?

  • Pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bleeding
  • Infection in the pleural space
  • Allergic reaction
  • Surgical emphysema
  • Pulmonary oedema
  • Pneumothorax

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after you have recovered from the sedative.

A member of the healthcare team will tell you what was found during the thoracoscopy and will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.

You should be able to go back to work between one and five days after the thoracoscopy.


A thoracoscopy is usually a safe and effective way of finding out if you have a problem in the space between your lungs and ribcage.


Author: Dr David Baldwin MD FRCP

Illustrations: Hannah Ravenscroft RM

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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