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Hospital of Central Connecticut offers minimally invasive lung cancer surgery

[May 03 2013] - Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC) surgeons are performing a minimally invasive procedure for lung cancer that involves smaller incisions and can mean a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery.

HOCC Surgical Oncologist James Flaherty, M.D., FACS, and Thoracic Surgeon Patrick Rocco, M.D., FACS, perform a procedure called video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) lobectomy on patients with early-stage lung cancer.

During VATS, surgeons make three small incisions and in one insert an endoscope, a long, thin tube fitted with a camera, that allows them to view images on a monitor. Using other endoscopic instruments, surgeons can remove cancerous tissue and the lobe of the lung.

"This approach provides clear and magnified images to allow for precise removal of the cancerous lobe and surrounding lymph nodes," Flaherty said. "For appropriately selected patients this is as effective a procedure as traditional, open surgery."

"We're using smaller incisions than we would in an open surgical procedure and we don't need to cut muscle or spread the ribs," Rocco added. "This can mean much less post-op discomfort and a faster recovery for patients."

With VATS, hospital stay averages three to four days vs. five to seven with open surgery, with recovery typically in two weeks, vs. four to six weeks.

VATS can also be used for esophageal and other thoracic cancers; some benign conditions, including collapsed lung and lung nodules with unknown cause; and biopsies of the lungs and lymph nodes.