Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery in trauma: pros and cons
Thoracic injuries account for 60% of all trauma presentations. These patients often have extra-thoracic injuries adding to the complexity of their management. Morbidity and the associated mortality are significantly increased in the elderly. The majority of cases will comprise of simple rib fractures, requiring adequate analgesia. In those that require surgical intervention, the use of video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is becoming increasingly more popular. VATS can often provide greater visualisation of the intra-thoracic structures, whilst limiting the burden of injury to smaller non-rib spreading incisions. It is therefore becoming increasingly used as a diagnostic tool to identify the extend of the injuries whilst also allowing for therapeutic intervention. These benefits translate into decreased rate of post-operative complications and a shorter length of inpatient stay. We also discuss the relative contra-indications and cautions to the use of VATS in the setting of trauma.