Video-assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS)
Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, or VATS, can be used to aid in the diagnosis of lung and esophageal cancers. Using a limited number of tiny incisions, small diameter video-thoracoscopes can allow examination of the entire thoracic cavity (see diagram at right). Biopsies of the lining of the chest cavity (pleura), lung nodules, mediastinal masses and pleural fluid can easily be obtained for diagnosis. In certain instances, definitive therapy can be performed at the same time, such as pleurodesis for pleural effusions.
VATS is the technique of choice for the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma. The procedure usually requires an overnight stay in hospital.