Thoracoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows access to the pleural space (the space enclosed by two thin layers covering the lungs) using a combination of viewing and working instruments. For practical and logistic purposes it is divided into medical thoracoscopy and VATS (Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery). Thoracoscopy has been established as a relatively low-risk diagnostic and therapeutic tool especially, for diseases involving the pleura.
Medical Thoracoscopy involves entry into the pleural space through a single opening (port) and is mainly carried out for draining large pleural effusions, pleural biopsy and for pleurodesis (Sealing the pleural space to prevent repeated filling of fluid or air). It is carried out under local anaesthesia with conscious sedation and the patient is normally discharged after 24-48 hours.
VATS is used to perform surgery with the aid of a telescope attached to a video camera. This is done under general anaesthesia, involves 3-4 entry points and a complex range range of instruments to carryout various operations on the lungs.