Thoracic Surgery

Minimally Invasive Thoracoscopy/Mediastinoscopy

When a patient is found to have a mass or enlarged lymph nodes in the lungs or chest cavity, typically tissue from a biopsy is needed to make a definitive diagnosis and formulate a treatment plan. The most minimally invasive approach to obtain tissue from this part of the body is with either thoracoscopy or mediastinoscopy, depending on the location of the abnormality. 
Using a camera and small instruments, the area in the chest is biopsied through small incisions and, using immediate pathologic tissue evaluation, most of the time gives the surgical team the answer as to the diagnosis before the patient is even awake from the surgery. This can dictate whether or not the surgery is complete or if further removal of the abnormal area is required. If the area is to be removed, it can often be done through the same incisions as the initial scope procedure. 


When patients require a larger area of the lung to be removed, typically an open procedure is required. Thoracotomy incisions have come a long way over the years and are typically much smaller than the conventional incisions of the past. Although these surgeries are still more invasive than the thoracoscopic approach, the recovery is accelerated and most patients are home from the hospital within a few days after surgery.