What complications can occur with VAT?
There is a high incidence of dysrhythmias following tho-racic surgery via open thoracotomy. Dysrhythmias may also occur following VAT, and may include atrial fibrilla-tion, supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), and sinus tachy-cardia. Elderly patients and patients who are receiving digoxin preoperatively may be at greater risk. Risk factors for postoperative SVT are significant surgical bleeding and increased tricuspid valve regurgitation as seen on echocar-diography. The use of epidural analgesia for postoperative pain treatment may be associated with a decrease in the incidence of dysrhythmias.
Patients may also experience respiratory failure after VAT, although this is usually more common following thoracotomy with more extensive resection. Patients with significant pre-existing pulmonary dysfunction, which can be identified with preoperative pulmonary function testing, are particularly at risk. The pain following VAT is usually minimal, which produces less respiratory impair-ment than would a thoracotomy incision.
Other potential complications include bleeding, infec-tion, and air leak. Although not as common as following thoracotomy, there may be chronic pain following VAT.