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After a Thoracoscopy

After surgery, you will wake up in a recovery area. At first, you’ll likely feel groggy and thirsty. An intravenous (IV) line gives you fluids and medications to relieve pain. Monitors will keep track of your breathing and heartbeat.

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 a thoracoscopy can vary, but could 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 the following:

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

  • Walking is important 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 surgeon when you can go back to work.

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

Man and woman leaving grocery store. Man is holding bag of groceries.

When to Call Your Surgeon

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

  • Shortness of breath

  • Very red or draining incision

  • Sudden, sharp chest pain

  • Fever over 100.4°F

  • Coughing up bright red blood 

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011
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