Thoracoscopy is minimally invasive surgery that looks inside your chest and is used to diagnose or treat a lung problem.

What is thoracoscopy

Thoracoscopy is performed by inserting a long tube with a camera on the end, called an endoscope or a thoracoscope, through small cuts in your chest wall to help diagnose or treat conditions affecting your lung and its lining.

There are two different methods for thoracoscopy:

  • Medical thoracoscopy - also called a pleuroscopy. Often performed under local anaesthetic and sedation in an outpatient setting, after less invasive diagnostic procedures. It is used to either diagnose a lung disease like lung cancer or tuberculosis or to treat the abnormal accumulation of fluid in your pleural space.
  • Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) – performed under general anaesthetic, VATS uses a thoracoscope with a small video camera attached to it. It is used to look for lung problems, take a biopsy, drain fluid from around your lungs, repair a collapsed lung or remove a small portion of tissue, or a complete part or all of an organ such as your lung, if you have cancer, infection or an injury.

What is thoracoscopy used for?

Thoracoscopy is used to examine your entire chest cavity and to find out the cause of any chest symptoms you might have. It can diagnose and treat conditions of the lungs and pleura (thin lining covering the lungs).

A thoracoscopy is used to:

  • For the causes of lung problems - checks the pleural cavity for any abnormalities, including infections, lung or pleura (your lung lining) cancer.
  • Take biopsy samples - from lymph nodes, lung tissue, your chest wall, or the lining of the lung (pleura) are taken and sent to the laboratory for analysis and to examine for lung diseases.
  • Drain fluid around your lungs - a pleural effusion is the build-up of excess fluid between the lining layers of your lung, called pleura. The removal of excess fluid may help improve breathing. It may also be analysed to check for infection, cancer, heart failure, cirrhosis, or kidney disease. Sterile talc or an antibiotic may be inserted to prevent the recurrence of fluid build-up.
  • Repair a collapsed lung – when air has got between the lining layers of your lung.
  • Stage or remove cancer – performed by a lobectomy that removes a lobe of your lung or a wedge resection that removes a smaller part of your lung with a wedge-shaped section of tissue surrounding the tumour.

What is the recovery process after a thoracoscopy

The recovery process after a thoracoscopy will depend on the type of thoracoscopy performed, why it was performed and your health. You may be able to go home the same day after a medical thoracoscopy, once you have recovered from the sedative. You can expect to go back to work between one and five days after a medical thoracoscopy.

If you have had a VATS lobectomy you will usually be able to go home three to four days after surgery. You can expect to return to work within three to four weeks, when you have regained your strength, energy and breathing.

We will arrange a follow-up appointment after your surgery to assess your wound sites and recovery.

What is the cost of a thoracoscopy

The cost of a thoracoscopy will depend on the type of thoracoscopy requested by your cardiology surgeon and your Ramsay hospital of choice.

You will receive a formal quotation price for your thoracoscopy following your consultation with one of our expert cardiology surgeons. This formal quote for your thoracoscopy will be valid for 60 days.

Ramsay is recognised by all major medical insurers. A thoracoscopy is covered by most medical insurance policies. We advise you to obtain written authorisation from your insurance provider before your thoracoscopy.

We have a number of finance options if you are paying for your thoracoscopy yourself. We offer interest-free finance so you pay 0% interest, no deposit and benefit from affordable monthly instalments.

Thoracoscopy at Ramsay Health Care UK

At Ramsay Health Care UK, we offer our patients convenient appointments for a thoracoscopy without waiting so they can receive a prompt diagnosis and treatment of their lung problem.

Our highly experienced thoracic surgeons regularly perform thoracoscopy procedures. They will ensure you have all the preoperative tests required beforehand.

Thoracoscopies are performed using the latest equipment and monitors, often in our purpose-built and JAG-accredited endoscopy units.

As a Ramsay patient, your safety is our utmost concern. You can rest assured that we follow strict infection control and prevention protocols to minimise the risk of any infection, including COVID-19, during your visit to our hospitals.

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