The mediastinum is the area in the middle of the chest between the lungs. A mediastinotomy is the creation of a small opening in the upper chest into the mediastinum. This opening allows the doctor to examine the area between and in front of the lungs.
The Lungs (Cut-away View)
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This procedure is done to examine the lungs and chest. Your doctor might take tissue samples ( biopsy ). These samples are examined under a microscope to check for diseases like:
Mediastinotomy is also done to find out if lung cancer has spread.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a mediastinotomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
Your doctor will explain the procedure to you and ask you to sign a consent form. You will be asked to stop eating and drinking for 8-10 hours before the procedure. Your doctor will tell you whether you should:
On the day of the procedure:
You will receive a general anesthetic through an IV in your hand or arm. This will block any pain and keep you asleep throughout the procedure. Once you are sedated, a breathing tube will be placed in your throat to help you breathe.
After the procedure, you will be taken to the recovery room. If all is well, your breathing tube will be removed. The tissue samples will be sent to the laboratory for testing.
30 minutes to 2 hours
General anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. Your doctor may give you pain medicine for pain and tenderness after the procedure.
This procedure can be done in an outpatient setting or as part of your hospital stay. The usual length of stay is up to 24 hours, if there are no unforeseen complications. Some people may need to stay in the hospital for 1-2 days.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
American Lung Association
American Thoracic Society
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6/6/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
Last reviewed June 2012 by Tajender S. Vasu, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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