Video-assisted thoracoscopy and thoracotomy are two treatments for nodules in the lung, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A lung nodule or a pulmonary nodule is a small growth in the lung. Pulmonary nodules are usually less than 3 centimeters in diameter.
Video-assisted thoracoscopy involves a smaller incision than a thoracotomy, states the Cleveland Clinic. A physician makes a small cut in the chest wall and inserts a flexible tube. The tube has a camera on the end, giving the physician a clear view of the lung nodule. During a thoracotomy, the physician makes a larger cut, resulting in a longer hospital stay. After making the cut, a surgeon removes the nodule from the lung.
Instead of removing a small lung nodule right away, a physician may want to monitor it by performing imaging studies, explains the Cleveland Clinic. Small nodules are less likely to be cancerous than large ones. If repeated imaging studies show the nodule is growing at a concerning pace, the physician may want to perform a biopsy. A needle biopsy involves taking tissue samples from nodules located near the chest wall, while a bronchoscopy involves taking samples from nodules that appear to be accessible from the breathing tubes. Benign modules usually require no additional treatment, but malignant nodules require removal.