Thoracic Surgery

Areas of the body treated by Thoracic Surgery Thoracic surgery refers to procedures done to the chest wall and the soft tissue inside include lungs, esophagus, and mediastinum.

The most common conditions we treat at Montrose Surgical Associates are rib fractures and collapsed lungs. This normally occurs after a trauma such as a fall during skiing, biking, ATVing, horseback riding or after a car accident. Most patients stay a day or two, with some requiring a week or more depending on their other injuries.

The most common surgery is lung biopsy. This helps your pulmonologist better understand and be able to treat your chronic lung disease.

Conditions Treated

  • Rib fractures
  • Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
  • Hemothorax (blood in the chest cavity)
  • Lung nodules or tumors
  • Chest wall masses
  • Empyema (infection in the chest cavity)
  • Effusion (fluid in the chest cavity)


  • Chest tube placement to drain fluid or reinflate the lung
  • Lung resection or biopsy
  • Decortication
  • Pleurodesis (to prevent recurrent fluid from building up in the chest)

Most of our procedures are performed with a minimally invasive technique called video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). This is similar to arthroscopic procedure on your joints or laparoscopic procedures on your abdomen.  Most patients are able to go home from the hospital sooner due to less pain and return to normal activities faster than a traditional surgical approach.

Post-Operative Expectations

Most people stay in the hospital for 1 to 3 days after Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS). You will likely spend at least one night in the intensive care unit (ICU) following your surgery. IF you need a traditional thoracotomy, the hospital stay is likely 5-7 days.

During your hospital stay:

  • You will need to take deep breaths and walk every day. This helps to prevent blood clots and a pneumonia.
  • You will have tube(s) coming out of the side of your chest to drain fluids.
  • Your pain with be controlled with medicine first through an IV and later with pills.