amyb15 Member Posts: 109 Member
edited March 2014 in Colorectal Cancer #1
has anyone had the VATS surgery? My sister is sheduled to have it Wednsday. The purpose of the surgery wil be to do a biopsy of mets to her lungs. What should she expect as far as the surgery itself, pain afterward, hospital stay and recovery time?


  • Sundanceh
    Sundanceh Member Posts: 4,392 Member
    Hi Amy

    She will have several small incisions made on her side and on her back. They will probably have to collapse her lung in order to get to the area in question.

    They will more than likely insert a chest tube in her back to drain all of the blood and fluids from her chest cavity. The chest tube is painful, I won't lie to you - 3 months out of surgery and mine hurts everyday after I am up a few hours...laying down helps that, standing and sitting too long can cause it to hurt - and I lean back in a chair or try and lay down if I can.

    Hospital stay could be about 5 days. It will be important for her to breathe as deeply as she can to help her oxygen saturation level to increase to be released to go home. This is easier said than done, but she will have to do this. They will have her up and walking and this is good to get the oxygen sat level up, this is the key.

    Recovery time varies - I ended up doing the DaVinci robot surgery on my lung tumor, and the first 6-weeks were the hardest...I would do my walk on the treadmill about 3 times a day and then rest up to do it again.

    They were going to do a VATS on me, but changed to a thoracotomy with a wedge resection, and then ended up doing that, only with the DaVinci. I became the first patient in North Texas to have this procedure done, so me and the doc and the hospital made some medical history down here in my part of the country.

    I'm going to send everyone a link to the video as I'm going to be on the local news here this week talking about that.

    I believe things will go well for the any surgery it hurts but VATS will offer a quicker recovery time and decresed pain - but it won't feel like it right away.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
  • Betsydoglover
    Betsydoglover Member Posts: 1,248 Member
    VATS Experience
    Hi Amy -

    Craig has given you his experience - mine was actually very different. I had a 9x13mm lung nodule removed last April via VATS. Surgery was Friday afternoon; I went home Sunday - could have gone home Saturday (my choice), but the morphine made me feel sick and I elected to take that extra day (NEVER thought I'd do that!). I had hideous pain in my right shoulder immediately after surgery (apparently air can get under the diaphragm and there is a nerve that goes directly to the shoulder). The morphine took care of and the pain was gone the next morning. The chest tube didn't bother me at all; it was pulled the morning after surgery and while I was dreading that, it was nothing. I'm sure the location of incisions depends on the location of the met. I had a very clean incision (can barely see it now even if you look) under my right breast and a much shorter, but a bit wider incision further down and more towards my back. For 10 days or so I would get occasional stab of pain under my breast, especially when I reached for something. But mostly pain-free - no pain meds after Monday (3 days post surgery). I was digging in my yard two weeks after the surgery. As surgery goes, after the first few days, it was very easy for me.
  • KFalvey
    KFalvey Member Posts: 118 Member
    Hi Amy,

    I had VATS done on my right lung on July 07. I went to the hospital at 8am, had surgery at 11am, put in a room that afternoon with a drain hooked up to a machine to remove fluid that builds up. It was removed at 7am the next morning and I went home at 4pm that day. The only place that I felt any discomfort was where the drain was put in. They say the back of the ribs have the most nerve endings and when the poke the drain between the ribs, they scratch some of these nerves so they take a few months to heal. After around 3 days after surgery I could hardly tell I had anything done. Went on vacation to the mountains hiking at high elevations and had no problems.
    Tell your sister to relax, it won't be nearly as bad as she expects it to be. I also had a thoracotomy done on the left lung 3 months later. It was another story. Much more painful, but still only stayed in the hospital for 3 days. It did take longer to recover from. Good Luck and Prayers for your sister.