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How painful is a standard thoracotomy for lung cancer?

Although VATS, or video-assisted thoracoscopy surgery, is always the procedure of choice because it is minimally invasive, the size and location of the cancer makes this procedure impossible for some individuals. These patients require a standard thoracotomy and lung resection.

If a thoracotomy incision is required to remove the lung cancer, surgeons are able to perform the surgery with far less patient discomfort than was possible a decade ago. All of our patients are given an epidural catheter through which we provide postoperative pain medication. The pain relief from the epidural is quite effective. Patients are able to get out of bed on the first day after surgery and walk around as required.

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