VATS Procedure Pioneers, Thoracic Group, P.A., Sees Faster Recover, Fewer Complications for Patients Requiring Chest Surgery

Somerset, NJ, July 20, 2008 – Thoracic Group, P.A., a provider of general thoracic surgical services and a national leader of minimally-invasive video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), has announced the successful completion of its 5,000th VATS surgical procedure. Highly beneficial in its ability to reduce incision size, hospital stay, associated complications and related chronic chest pain as compared to traditional open chest surgery (i.e., thoracotomy), this specific technique employs just four minimal incisions and allows surgeons to execute a variety of chest procedures via videoscope.  Led by VATS pioneers Robert J. Caccavale, M.D. and Jean-Philippe Bocage, M.D., Thoracic Group, P.A. began employing the technique in 1990 and currently uses it in over 99 percent of its procedures.

Used to operate on the lung, mediastinum, pleura and esophagus to treat conditions such as cancer, pneumothorax, infection, swallowing disorders and cysts, VATS provides patients with significant, measurable benefits including:

  • Just four one inch incisions (a traditional thoracotomy requires an incision of 10-14 inches as well as necessary rib removal and muscle damage)
  • An approximated two day hospital stay (patients of a typical thoracotomy require stays of 10-12 days)
  • An 80 percent reduction in recovery time as compared to the traditional thoracotomy
  • A significantly reduced rate of risk of complication due to minimal invasion (less than five percent of VATS patients experience post-surgery complications compared to 30 percent of thoracotomy patients)
  • A significantly minimized mortality rate of just 0.3 percent

“The completion of our 5,000th VATS procedure is a significant milestone not only for our practice and the medical community but also for the scores of people who suffer from an array of thoracic ailments,” said Robert J. Caccavale, M.D., Thoracic Group, P.A. surgeon.  “For all potential patients – particularly those deemed ineligible for a traditional thoracotomy due to certain risk factors and co-existing medical conditions – VATS presents a viable, alternative option for treatment with the same effectiveness and much faster recovery.”

VATS is performed using a small video camera, known as a thoracoscope, which is introduced to the patient’s chest through one of four small incisions. The thoracoscope transmits magnified images of the operative area onto strategically positioned monitors in the operating room.  Concurrently, the three remaining incisions serve as entry ports for the surgical instruments necessary to carry out the procedure.

Operating as a surgical team for over 15 years, the unique collaborative approach of Dr. Bocage and Dr. Caccavale has enabled them to reach this milestone in a faster timeframe than would be possible by individual surgeons who chose to conduct VATS procedures with only nurses, residents, and assistants by their side. Operating together, the duo finds that the procedures progress not only faster, but much safer – as each highly experienced surgeon is able to work independently on either side of the patient’s body, and accomplish with four hands what typically relies on only two hands to achieve.

“We feel it is of the utmost importance that patients requiring thoracic surgery know that there are alternatives to the traditional thoracotomy,” said Jean-Philippe Bocage, M.D., Thoracic Group, P.A. surgeon.  “There are a number of co-existing or debilitating conditions such cardiac disease, diabetes or osteoporosis that can prohibit traditional open surgery.  What we want to communicate is that VATS is an excellent alternative that yields significant benefits.”

About Thoracic Group, P.A.

Centrally headquartered in Somerset, New Jersey, Thoracic Group, P.A. is one of the country’s leading providers of general thoracic and surgical services and is nationally renowned for developing and performing Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS).  Led by surgeons Robert J Caccavale, M.D. and Jean-Philippe Bocage, M.D., the practice has successfully conducted more than 5,000 VATS surgeries since 1990 on patients from across the U.S. suffering from a variety of ailments including various cancers and infections, pneumothorax, emphysema, cysts and other thoracic disorders.

Thoracic Group, P.A. is affiliated with three medical centers: Somerset Medical Center, St. Peter’s University Hospital, and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital; and two cancer centers: Steeplechase Cancer Center and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

*  *  *  *

Learn more at, or by contacting Tracey Keller at 732-247-3002 or [email protected].