Preparing for VATS surgery and what to expect

Before surgery

  • Stop smoking as soon as possible. You must be completely cigarette-free for at least two weeks prior to surgery. Nicotine replacement and medication options are available to help you quit.
  • Exercise as much as possible. Even a short daily walk around the block can drastically improve recovery. Patients are asked to walk the halls of the hospital on the morning before surgery. Better stamina prior to surgery leads to better stamina following surgery.
  • You can continue taking aspirin; however, patients must refrain from any other blood thinners following instructions from your clinical care team.
  • You may continue to take other medications as usual, unless specifically discussed during your preoperative visit with an anesthesiologist.
  • Do not eat or drink after midnight before the day of surgery.

Day of surgery

  • On arrival to the surgical unit, you will have an IV placed and be prepared for surgery. You will meet with the anesthesia and surgical teams prior to your operation.

During surgery

  • Once you are asleep, arterial and urinary catheters are placed. Both catheters will be present when you wake from surgery.
  • To help reduce pain after surgery, we use injections of long-acting local anesthesia, also called nerve blocks, for the nerves between the ribs. Patients receive this injection during surgery. The goal is to minimize the pain you experience after surgery, therefore decreasing the amount of pain medication you require in the following days.
  • A drainage tube (chest tube) is left in place following surgery. We closely monitor the output from the tube. The goal is to remove the tube in the days after surgery, as soon as the output is appropriate. Removal of this tube largely determines when patients are discharged to go home.
  • Your incisions are closed with absorbable sutures under the skin. There will be no sutures or staples to remove.