Invasive tests - Thoracoscopy

A Thoracoscopy is performed to look at the thoracic cavity, which includes the lungs, the space between the lungs called the ‘mediastinum’ and the membrane which surrounds the lung called the ‘pleura’. This test is done under a general anaesthetic.

A Thoracoscopy is done for several reasons:

  • To help make a diagnosis.
  • To look at the pleura and take biopsies.
  • To diagnose unexplained fluid build up between the pleural membranes, which is called a pleural effusion.
  • To perform a procedure called ‘Pleurodesis’: which helps to bring the pleural membranes together and prevent any further air or fluid leaks.

How this is done:

  • It is performed using a fibre optic telescope with a camera and is inserted between the ribs through a small incision.
  • The operator will introduce air around the lung to cause it to collapse, this allows better views of the inside the chest.
  • Further small incisions between the ribs can be made to allow other instruments to be introduced, for example, to take biopsies.
  • After a Thoracoscopy a chest drain tube is inserted in to the chest to let the air escape, allow the lung to re-inflate and drain off any fluid. This may stay in place for a few days. The patient will stay in hospital for this procedure.