Thoracoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses an endoscope, a narrow-diameter tube with a viewing mirror or camera attachment, to examine the lungs through a very small incision in the chest wall.

Thoracoscopy is used to:

  • assess lung cancer
  • take a biopsy for study
  • determine the cause of fluid in the chest cavity
  • introduce medications or other treatments directly into the lungs
  • treat accumulated fluid, pus (empyema), or blood in the space around the lungs

The alternative to thoracoscopy is thoracotomy, which uses a large incision in the chest cavity to access the lungs. For many patients, thoracoscopy replaces thoracotomy and avoids many of the complications of open chest surgery and reduces pain, hospital stay and recovery time.