Alexandra Howson, PhD
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.
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.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
You will be asked to stop eating and drinking for 8-10 hours before the procedure.
You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
On the day of the procedure:
General anesthesia 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
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
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.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Call your doctor if any of the following occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
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Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, 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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