Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery

Our Approach

How I Perform Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery

Undergoing minimally invasive thoracic surgery yields numerous benefits for the patient, such as significantly reduced post-operative discomfort and a faster recovery. It also causes less tissue scarring, which means that they can successfully and safely have a second procedure in the future, if necessary. However, before opting for minimally invasive thoracic surgery, your health has to be thoroughly assessed to determine whether you are eligible for it. Accordingly, your physician will ask you to go through some of the following tests and medical examinations, depending on the specific pulmonary issue you experience:

  • blood tests
  • a CT scan of your chest area & a chest X-ray
  • a biopsy
  • sputum cytology, a test which can determine the presence of malignant cells in the phlegm you cough up
  • MRI
  • bone scans
  • a PET scan (positron emission tomography)

Almost every condition or disease occurring in the thoracic cavity can be successfully attended to via a minimally invasive approach. Nevertheless, deciding for it when it comes to treating very severe or extremely complex lung-related problems might be ill-advised, as a larger incision is usually more suitable in these cases.

Supposing you are a good candidate for minimally invasive thoracic surgery and opt for it, the procedure will go as follows. After general anesthesia takes effect, the surgeon will make three incisions in your breastbone, each of approximately one inch. While a fiber optic camera provides the operating team with complex, real-time images of the inside of your chest cavity, the appropriate medical instruments will be inserted through the incisions to restore the proper functioning of your lungs or remove the malignant tumor. Subsequently, the surgical cuts will be securely closed with stitches and a sterile dressing will be applied over each of them to protect the wounds until they heal.

call to Request an appointment

(310) 208-4400

Our Locations

Marina Del Rey Hospital

4650 Lincoln Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

St. Vincent Medical Center

2131 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center

757 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095

(310) 825-9111
Cedar-Sinai Medical Center

8700 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90048

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center

1300 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center

555 E Hardy St, Inglewood, CA 90301

Olympia Medical Center

5900 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Providence Saint John's Health Center

2121 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401


Our Patients

Who Needs Minimally Invasive Surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery is effective in case of heart conditions that are not extremely severe or complex. Patients who had several complex surgeries in the past might not qualify for minimally invasive surgery. For those who are eligible for this procedure, here are some of the conditions that can be treated:

  • lung cancer
  • neurogenic tumors
  • esophageal cancer
  • thymic cancer and thymoma (which affects the thymus gland)
  • achalasia
  • hiatal hernia
  • myasthenia gravis
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • thoracic outlet syndrome
  • paraesophageal hernia
  • diaphragm paralysis
  • esophageal diverticula

Some of the main advantages for the patients who undergo minimally invasive interventions are:

  • reduced postoperative bleeding
  • minimal tissue scarring
  • a shorter recovery period
  • reduced postoperative pain and discomfort
  • a shorter hospitalization period
  • significantly decreased risk of infection due to the small size of the incisions
  • less trauma to the tissues inside the chest cavity during the procedure


What to Expect After Minimally Invasive Surgery

Due to the minimally invasive nature of this type of surgery, you will spend less time in the hospital after the intervention, somewhere around 2 to 5 days, depending on the disease that required the intervention. During your hospitalization period, you will take the same steps as patients who undergo traditional open-heart surgery. At first, you will be taken to the intensive care unit, where your vital signals will be monitored and you’ll require intubation for a couple of days, until your normal functions like eating are restored. You will receive the necessary treatment to alleviate any pain you might feel. Keep in mind that after minimally invasive surgery the pain is usually dull.

Within several weeks after your intervention, you will be fully recovered. To make the recovery easier and avoid complications (which are very rare after this type of surgery), you should follow these recommendations:

  • limit your intake of foods that contain saturated fats, eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • you should try to quit smoking, or at least reduce the number of cigarettes
  • take the prescribed medicine for as long as recommended
  • exercise regularly to boost your health (your physician can tell you what type of activities you can perform after the surgery)