VATS Procedure

I have stage 1 adenocarcinoma of the upper right lobe,no involvement anywhere else,this was found at a very early stage when I had an x-ray for shoulder problems,I am having the lobe removed on the 21st of this month and have been told this is a curative operation and I will not need any follow up treatment.The surgeon is going to use the VATS procedure to remove the lobe,I would very much like to know of anyone who has had this done and what was their experience was like,obviously I am very worried and anxious especially as I have already been cancelled a week ago.

Greetings from sunny Cornwall and best wishes to all.

24 Replies

  • Hi I just had what sounds the same as you. I had the op last Friday to have top lobe of left lung removed by keyhole. Not sure what VATS procedure is. Mine has all happened very quick. I had diagnosis on 31st January then pet scan and biopsy before op. I was in hospital 4 days and luckily all went well. Since been home I have been quite sore and felt pretty tired but been up and walking about everyday and going for short walk every day which is good and been doing my physio for breathing exercises etc. You are bound to be anxious as Im sure everyone is before but try to know that the surgeons, nurses etc are brilliant and will look after you all the way. Greetings back from sunny Manchester(was this morning)!!!!

    Leigh x

  • Hi,thank you for your reply,VATS is the same as keyhole just called a different name,it is so good and helpful to read the positive things people have written about the surgery and it has eased my worries quite a lot,especially as your all here to tell the tale!!!,I wish I had had more confidence in listening to what the cancer support nurses were telling me,but I will in the future,this is my first experience of cancer for myself and its so different to be the patient and not the carer,all sorts go through your mind and lots of it is so exaggerated it gets to big to sort out,

    Greeting from a dull,overcast Cornwall,Hazel x

  • Hi

    I was diagnosed with Stage 1 adenocarcinoma - I was down for VATS procedure but ended up having open surgery - only difference really is I have scar on my shoulder blade! same end result. I had my operation in September 2012 with no followup treatment: here I am still going strong - I get a bit breathless at times, but over the last five years have started swimming again and going to the gym two or three times a week (well, that is when I'm not being too lazy) I have been discharged, so, I don't 'have' lung cancer I 'had' lung cancer! my travel insurance has updated our policy last week and have removed the lung cancer excluded clause.

    Best wishes for your op and a speedy recovery


  • I had an upper right lobectomy in July 2015 having had chemo and radiotherapy prior to that (Stage IIIB). I had the operation using VATS procedure - was done on Wednesday and was discharged Saturday.

    I was a keen runner before all this and was back running within 5 weeks of surgery - albeit slowly! The procedure went fine with me and they must have monitored pain control well in the hospital as don't remember being in much pain. Drain coming out was short sharp pain but lovely to be rid of it!

    I was 45 at the time of the op and relatively fit and healthy. Wishing you all the best for your op and I am sure things will go fine.

    Best wishes (from holiday in a very sunny Thailand!!)

    Jane x

  • Hi Jane great to read your post, very inspiring. I got into running a couple of months ago and had my 1st 10k booked so they put off my op for week so could do it and it was fab!! 2 weeks ago and got next one booked too!! Have lovely holiday in thailand

    Leigh x

  • Hi Leigh,

    Absolutely love that you did your 10k before the op and that they made that possible! Good luck for the next one!!

    I managed to get round Snowdon marathon four months after the lobectomy.... good to have goals! Worst bit after surgery, as far as running went, was getting a sports bra back in comfortably!

    Sounds like you are doing really well after your op and good to keep walking and doing your exercises. I am sure there will be many more 10k's in your future! Xxx

  • Thanks jane and wow you doing that 4 months after surgery! That's brill and big fair play. Those are the sort of things that I find so inspiring especially at the moment. Ha ha Yeh can't even imagine attempting bra for while yet!!! Yeh thanks,using my runkeeper app is real comfort and good tonic to feel like still in the keep fit world!!! Yeh sure there will b many more 10k yet! X

  • I had a VATS (video assisted thoracic surgery, i.e. keyhole) operation on Friday 13th (!) June 2014 at Papworth having been admitted onto the ward the previous afternoon. Everything went really well and I was sent home on the afternoon of Sunday 15th, pleased to sleep in my own bed. My upper left lobe was removed and I had three scars with the longest about 2 inches long near my armpit, another in my back and a smaller one in the front where the chest drain had been. The latter tube was removed on the Sunday. There had been an X-Ray and a walking exercise to monitor my ability to breathe, etc. On returning to the ward from recovery, I looked a sorry sight to my family immediately after the operation, having various tubes and monitors attached and being very sleepy, but this was soon overcome. The chest drain was connected to a small pump in a box which I had to carry with me when going to the loo, but it was, of course, doing it's necessary job and wasn't a real problem. I felt rather nauseous on the Saturday, but that's hardly surprising after any quite major operation. I was on quite a few tablets for a while and the hydrocodeine painkillers are said to be addictive, but my wife was very good at organising a programme of reducing the number I was taking day by day over about the next fortnight. I was never in much real discomfort however and simple paracetamol is good stuff too. I found it wise to take the prescribed laxatives to combat the constipation hydrocodeine causes. You don't want to strain on the loo after that sort of operation. Obviously regulating intake of laxative with amount of painkillers taken. I had a walk every day, venturing further each day. I believe this was an important aid to quick recovery as well as an afternoon nap.

    I was off work for about a fortnight and, almost three years on from the operation, the scars that used to be my badges of experience are quite difficult to find now!

    For me, it was straightforward and I was deeply impressed by the professional skill and care I received at Papworth. I still smile about what a thoroughly unusual experience the removal of the chest drain was!

    I hope your experience is as smooth as mine was.


  • Hi Neil,thank you for for your reassuring and helpful experience of the VATS surgery,I have been so worried about it all thinking I was in for a long stay in hospital and lots of difficulties after,but the answers to my post have been really positive.,also the advice about exercise and meds I will be taking to heart and will follow the constipation one to!! .

    Many thanks for your rely

    Best wishes

    Hazel x

  • Hi finley12

    Welcome to the forum where you will find support and encouragement as you can see from webbs8 and Janey_H.

    It is very encouraging that they have found this early and that your surgery is curative treatment

    VATS (video assisted Thorascopic surgery) is performed under general anaesthetic, where they will make a few small incisions to allow a camera and the surgeon to remove the lobe.

    It is less invasive than open surgery and recovery is usually much quicker.

    I have placed a link below if you want to read more about the procedure.

    We have a free nurse led helpline if you wish to discuss anything on 0800 358 7200

    All the best

    The Roy Castle Support Team

  • Thank you,xxxx

  • Morning hazel, have been thinking of you and sure we had a lot of similar feelings and thoughts a week before op!! Keep trying to know how lucky we are to b in the only 20% of people that lung cancer diagnosis found that early!!! I know what you mean about all the things that go through your mind and getting carried away!! Hope u will be able to have a fairly calm, chilled and good tonic few days leading up to op. We used to live in Devon for 10 years at little villages, Hemyock and Sheldon near Honiton if you know it. Where abouts in Cornwall do u live, is the hospital far from you x

  • Hi Leigh,I am trying my very best to be upbeat and positive around friends and family but when I'm on my own it gets very dark,I do realise how very lucky I am to have this wonderful chance to be cancer free but sometimes fear is much bigger !!,I am just 70 and have a wonderful daughter and brilliant grandchildren,but their expectation of me being immortal is painful for me,oh here I go again being a whinge,the very thing I dread.

    I have lived in Cornwall for 34 years now after spending the first half of my life in Essex,we live just on the outskirts of Camborne so we are very near to Truro,St Ives,Falmouth all beautiful places,we come up Barnstaple quite often for a shopping trip I love Croyde and the surrounding area.

    The hospital I am going to is in Plymouth,Derriford Hospital,its a round trip of about 150 miles for my husband,but the thoracic surgeon does not operate at my local hospital Royal Cornwall Treliske,its a long way from home which is not helping.

    Best wishes to you and hope you are well.

    Hazel xx

    What a lovely lot of people on this site,I am feeling much more reassured after reading the replies,so glad I found you xxx

  • Hi hazel Yeh I know what you mean about being upbeat to family friends, I had worked out a script to tell my mum and son to sell it to them how small and minor it was and because of how fit and well I had been with all my running! But still had those scary thoughts etc when on own. That is lovely where you live, we used to go to Saunton sands and maybe Croyde with the children for days out. That's lovely you have got your husband and lovely daughter. That is quite a journey but hopefully your people can travel when roads not too busy. I live in manchester and my mum who is 80 and lives in Bournemouth has come up to stay with me which is lovely and she is amazing for her age. I have a bit of cold and cough but not too bad and doctor put me on antibiotics coz incision looked bit sore. Me and mum have been getting out everyday for short walk which has been lovely. So I am 11 days after op today and feeling on the whole good, great appetite, bit sore and tired. You try and stay as positive as can and know that everything is going to be OK, a part of our life's journey we need to go through. Speak soon. Love and hugs. Leigh x

  • Hi Leigh,well its been done and I'm home,it was a tough one but I feel I'm improving each day,the breathless feeling is the worst as I can cope with pain,emotionally I have gone down like a dead balloon,seems from speaking to the lung specialist nurse that I had been in denial from the start right up until the the day I went in and now I have PTSD which I am going to have some treatment for,she tells me this is quite a common thing as the reality of everything is just so big,I am most thankful and grateful for the support I have had from you and the other people who took time to tell me of their experience of the VATS,I really knew nothing about it at all and it did help.

    Hope continues to be well with you.

    Very best wishes

    Hazel xx in grey,overcast,miserable Cornwall xx

  • Ah hi Hazel, lovely to hear from you and glad that part all over for you! Sorry not sure what PTSD is, I take it some kind of depression. That's interesting about what nurse explained to you. It will be 4 weeks tomoz since my op! I had been doing ok but the last week I started feeling more sore so we increased the gabapentin to 3 times a day from twice. I had my mum come to stay while I had my op and she stayed for 2 weeks ago so of course I was so well looked after!! And didn't really do anything and then it was the same the week after when my best friend came to stay. Think my friend and I had overdone it a bit with how much walking and talking and staying up too late!! So think feeling quite sore and tired was self inflicted! Also I think since they have gone I have been feeling a bit low. I have got my 19 year old son who lives with me and he is trying but he is a teenager boy ha ha. Also we have been given 3 months notice for us to move as they are selling the house so not brill timing and I think when you are feeling vulnerable anyway, things knock you a bit harder! I also had a cold and been left with a cough that won't go at moment. The doctor has listened to my chest and it is ok, I spoke to the MacMillan nurse and she said they will phone in a week and if not gone they will prob have me in for x ray but it is prob irritation from op. I had a fair amount of discomfort when like trying to get out of bed etc but in general been easing off as time going on. I have managed to get out for walk every day which has been good and doing the breathing exercises, arm exercises and sucking machine I came home with!!!! Getting it up to 1500 now!! Have you got one of them? I kept thinking about you and hoped all was going ok. Love and hugs from drizzly Manchester x

  • Hi Leigh,been a bit of delay in replying to you as I a bit all over the place at the moment,pain is not to bad and breathing is improving,I can get to 1500 but cant hold for the three seconds they want me to,the cough and the throat clearing are driving me nuts!!!,PTSD is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,I started to get panic attacks and violent shaking in the hospital,then couldn't stop sobbing,this cames in waves but is a bit better now,enough about me.

    What rotten timing to have to look for somewhere else to live,I hope it wont be to much of a problem for you,its so good that you are walking outside,I can only walk indoors for the minute as my confidence is so low,but I will try to aspire to your level hopfully very soon,the breathing gadget is brill,did they tell you how high you need to go ? is your got to be done 10 sucks an hour and do you do the 10 together or space them out? I hope your arm and the nerve pain has improved,again I have been very lucky and had neither of these problems,the terrible shoulder pain I had pre op had completely gone after the op so it was the cancer causing it.

    Thank you for your support,much appreciated,xx

    Love n stuff Hazel,wet n windy,but cosy indoors xx

  • Hi Hazel no probs and lovely to hear from you. Ah bless you with the PTSD, glad you feeling lots better now and that your shoulder pain gone too. Not so good about your throat clearing and cough!! Have they said to you that common after op. I have had slight cold but cough won't go at moment!! I don't get it when lying down, it's mainly when I sat and def worse when talking! It feels like to me what it would bexpect if had asthma, quite wheezy. My doc has listened to my chest and fine. I spoke to macmillan nurse about it and she said if not gone soon, they will prob have me in for x ray. Feel it is preventing me getting on any further with breathing exercises etc. Yeh the breathing gadget is great, wow you doing well up to 1500 already!!! Took me while to get to that! I can't hold for 3 secs either! I do 10 together but not very good at doing it as often as should!!! At the hospital I asked the nurse what am I going to have to aim for. She said most people get about 2000 to 2500, well I got my son to do it and was 4000!!! Oh dear, way to go!!! My discomfort is easing little bit each day. Yeh thanks about us having to move, will start looking soon. Ah you will get more confident with walking in time, little steps and day at a time. Love and hugs from overcast Manchester x

  • I had a VATs for right lower lobe 6/7/16. I had chemo afterwards finishing in November and am back at work now. Looking back I'm amazed how well I recovered after the op. My main advice would be to try to get moving as soon as you can after the operation and using the breathing thing they give you before (I've forgotten it's name). Don't overdo it though but walking is definitely the best exercise after. For me the worst bit was the chest drain as I had to go home with it still in for a week but usually they can remove it before you leave. I also found I needed to sleep at about 45 degrees so having a nice big pillow or cushions is important! I have 2 children aged 10 and 12 and we were very open with them every step of the way. I even have photos of my tumour that they have looked at as well! Bras definitely an issue!! Have some loose comfy clothes at the ready that don't require bras if you can manage for a few weeks. With going home with the drain still in I had to wear long tops and cardies to cover the drain bag when I was out and about. It makes me chuckle now to remember my kids inviting friends to come at look at the chest drain bag!

    You'll do great and in a few months it'll be something that isn't constantly at the front of your mind x


  • Hi hazel been thinking of you and hope you as well as can be! If you still having op on Tuesday, will be sending you comfort hugs to help you through and everything will be OK even though it will be tough at times too, look forward to speaking soon. I am 2 weeks after op today and walked 2.5k today around Lymm dam and was fine so well chuffed! Leigh x

  • Thank you for your warm wishes and kind thoughts,so pleased to hear you are doing so well,gives me great comfort and strength,of course I will let you know when I get home how things went,just hope its nit cacelled again!!.

    Love Hazel xx

  • Thinking of you lots for tomorrow, love and hugs x

  • I had the same op at the John Radcliffe in Oxford on the 14th Feb and was discharged on the 16th..The operation was straight forward. I did everything they advised me to do prior to op and then everything after.Try to get yourself mobile as soon as you can.The hardest part for me was the first cough.If you have anything like the team I had you will be in good hands.

    Best of luck and safe recovery

  • To those having the post lobectomy bra issues I found the solution at of all places, Asda. For £6 you can get a cotton crop top called "soft and comfy". It's a stretchy cotton crop top with built in bra foam cups at the front (removable). I bought the biggest one they sold Extra large and a large one - figured at £6 it was worth a try. I am nothing like a large it extra large I. Real life but went for comfort. Worked really well. Maybe have a look

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