Owing to advances in video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), the majority of pulmonary resections can currently be performed by VATS in a safe manner with a low level of morbidity and mortality. The majority of the complications that occur during VATS can be minimized with correct preoperative planning of the case as well as careful pulmonary dissection. Coordination of the whole surgical team is essential when confronting an emergency such as major bleeding. This is particularly important during the VATS learning curve, where the occurrence of intraoperative complications, particularly significant bleeding, usually ends in a conversion to open surgery. However, conversion should not be considered as a failure of the VATS approach, but as a resource to maintain the patient's safety. The correct assessment of any bleeding is of paramount importance during major thoracoscopic procedures. Inadequate management of the source of bleeding may result in major vessel injury and massive bleeding. If bleeding occurs, a sponge stick should be readily available to apply pressure immediately to control the haemorrhage. It is always important to remain calm and not to panic. With the bleeding temporarily controlled, a decision must be made promptly as to whether a thoracotomy is needed or if the bleeding can be solved through the VATS approach. This will depend primarily on the surgeon's experience. The operative vision provided with high-definition cameras, specially designed or adapted instruments and the new sealants are factors that facilitate the surgeon's control. After experience has been acquired with conventional or uniportal VATS, the rate of complications diminishes and the majority of bleeding events are controlled without the need for conversion to thoracotomy.
Keywords: Bleeding; Thoracoscopic complications; Uniportal VATS; Vascular control.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery. All rights reserved.