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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

What is the test?

Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) is a type of surgery that enables doctors to view the inside of the chest cavity after making only very small incisions. The doctor can examine the outside surface of the lung and the inner surface of the chest wall through a camera attached to the scope. Abnormal appearing areas on the lung surface can be biopsied.

VATS also provides relatively easy access to taking a biopsy of the lung. This may be needed to diagnose the cause of abnormalities on a chest x-ray or to determine the specific infectious agent responsible for pneumonia that is not getting better on antibiotics.

From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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