VATS surgery recovery

My mom is finally scheduled for a VATS surgery on December 1, after 7 weeks of weekly chemo and 25 daily radiations. The surgeon is planning to remove her right upper lobe along with some lymph nodes. She was diagnosed at staged 3A and last week, she had a madiastinoscopy to test her lymph nodes in her chest area and all tested negative. Can anybody tell me what to expect from the VATS surgery and how long would the recovery time be? How long would she be in the hospital and what kind of complications she might have? What about chest tubes?. I want to know how much time I need to take her work to move in with her because I don't live with her and I have to find some help with my 20 month old baby.

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I hope this info will help you and your Mom get ready for her surgery.

My VATS was done in May of '05 and I was 62. My upper left lobe was removed and I was in the hospital for 5 days before coming home with one chest tube and on oxygen.

The tube fell out and my lung collapsed resulting in another overnight in the hospital while the lung re-inflated on its own.

The oxygen need ended after a week and at that point both of my "kids" left and I was OK on my own.

The recovery progressed as expected...there was some pain at the small points where instruments had been inserted, BUT I was always grateful to have had VATS and not the BIG incision so many have suffered through.

I couldn't wear a bra for several weeks (thank goodness for sweat shirts!) and had the most discomfort when I was doing things like pushing myself up out the tub or getting up from a deep chair where I had to sort of boost up by my arms.

Your Mom will be fine (and so will you!),

Best wishes,

(P.S. I had chemo post-op and have NED at this point)

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I have had both types of surgery one on my upper right lobe the conventional way and one 5 weeks ago on my lower left lobe which was VATS believe me it was a piece of cake compared to the conventional method, I had hardly any pain with my ribs and no great big scar on my back I went home after 2 days unfortuneately I got a small pulmony embolism but am now on Warfarin so I am getting along ok, I am sore but nothing like the first operation(done April 07) I still get pain in my ribs on the right side but it is better now, I was stage 1 on both occasions with no lymph involement or spread anywhere else so I am keeping my fingers crossed. Elaineb2

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I had VATS (upper right lobe like your mother) the day before Thanksgiving in 2004. Next day (Thanksgiving Day - an interesting double meaning) I walked 3 miles (had to - round and round the hospital corridors) and ate two good Thanksgiving Dinners (one at lunch, one at dinner). No pain - but tubes in and tubes out. Catheter, chest tube, morphine drip (I could punch a button and get a jolt or let it come into me at planned intervals - but I never noticed it and never needed to punch the button... though I did to see what it would be like - might not have been working for all I know). Saturday I left the hospital, all tubes removed. I had difficulty climbing steps, walking up hills, etc. but no pain. Was back at work the next Wednesday - though I admit I didn't spend 8-hours working. Back to what I call normal within two or three months.

I think the answers to your questions depend on what condition your mother is in and the skill of the surgeon. I was in relatively good shape for a 61 year old and had a fine surgeon. I also had not gone through chemo and/or radiation before the operation. That might also matter. But if she were me the answers would be
- 2-3 days in the hospital
-complications - collapsed lung or "reversion" to regular surgery are possible (didn't happen to me)
- chest tubes only in for two days
- I guess I needed help for two or three weeks after, but I;m a good patient and not demanding.



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Where will her surgery be performed? By whom?

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Ramona, her surgery will be done at City of Hope by Dr. Kernstine. However, we met with him yesterday and the surgery might be converted to open instead of robotic.

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