A pleuroscopy is a surgical procedure that involves the insertion of a long, thin tube with a light and camera on the end (called a pleuroscope). Through the use of a pleuroscope, doctors can diagnose problems in the chest and get a clear picture of where a tumor is located.
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With the evolution of minimally invasive technology, the evaluation of patients via pleuroscopy has been encouraged. This technique allows for better visualization of the tumor, which, in turn, improves the adequacy of tissue sample biopsies.
A pleuroscopy normally requires the use of sedative medications, but not necessarily a general anesthetic. In this case, the patient is awake and relaxed as the pleuroscopy proceeds but usually does not remember what happened during the procedure. Oxygen is normally administered during the procedure and vital signs are monitored.
Doctors typically perform the pleuroscopy with the patient lying on his or her side. An ultrasound is used to determine the correct place for the surgeon to cut and one or several small incisions are made. The pleuroscope is then inserted and the surgeon proceeds by exploring the chest area, removing fluid or tissue samples, and administers treatment for effusion if needed. The lung is then re-inflated and the incisions closed and bandaged. In some cases, a tube may remain to allow for drainage of air or fluid. It may be removed just a few hours after surgery or, if drainage is heavy or complications arise, it may be kept in place for a few days.
A patient’s release from the hospital after a pleuroscopy will depend on drainage and any post-operative complications, which are fairly uncommon after this procedure. Such complications may include infection, bleeding, loss of air in part of the lung, or in very rare cases, respiratory failure.
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