After a Thoracoscopy

Healthcare provider walking with man in hospital hallway.After surgery, you will wake up in a recovery area. At first you’ll likely feel groggy and thirsty. An IV (intravenous) line gives you fluids and medicines to relieve pain. Monitors will keep track of your breathing and heartbeat. You may have a chest tube coming out of your chest to drain fluid or air. This may be taken out just after surgery. Or it may stay in place for several days.

Recovering in the hospital

While in the hospital, you’ll work with a respiratory therapist. He or she will teach you breathing exercises. These help keep your lungs clear and prevent inflammation. You’ll do these exercises every hour or so. Depending on your condition, a nurse or therapist will help you get up and walk soon after your surgery. This keeps your blood moving and will help improve your healing. The hospital stay after your surgery will be 1–4 days. If you have chest tubes, you won’t go home until they’re removed.

Recovering at home

At home, follow the instructions you are given about how to care for your incisions and lungs. This may include:

  • Take your pain medicines as prescribed. This helps relieve soreness and makes activity and deep breathing easier.

  • Walk to keep your blood moving and strengthen your muscles. But avoid strenuous activity, heavy lifting, and driving for a few weeks.

  • Continue to do the breathing exercises taught to you by your therapist.

  • Resume sexual relations when you feel ready.

  • Ask your doctor when you can go back to work.

  • Follow up with your doctor. He or she will monitor your healing and discuss the results of the procedure.

When to call your doctor

Call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms after your procedure:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness that continues even after sitting down

  • Very red or draining incision

  • Sudden, sharp chest pain that does not go away

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Coughing up bright red blood