by Diana Kohnle
The mediastinum is surrounded by the breastbone in front, the spine in back, and the lungs on each side. Mediastinal tumor resection removes tumors in this area of the chest cavity.
Cancerous tumors must be removed to prevent the spread of cancer. Without removal or treatment, the cancer could spread to other areas of the body. The cancer could also start to compress organs in the chest, such as the heart, lungs, esophagus, or spinal cord.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have mediastinal tumor resection, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Before the surgery, your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to the surgery:
General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery.
You will have a breathing tube and be given an IV. The IV will be used to give you medicines and fluids during the surgery.
To remove the tumor, the doctor will make one large, central incision in the chest, an incision between the ribs, or several small incisions. If several small incisions are made, a camera will be inserted into one incision. The camera will allow the doctor to view the area via monitor. Through the other incisions, surgical tools will be inserted.
Tubes may be inserted into your chest. These tubes will help to drain fluid and air from the chest cavity. The incisions will be closed with staples or stitches.
The breathing tube will be removed. You will be monitored closely for any complications from the procedure.
About 1-4 hours depending on the type of surgery
The anesthesia will ease discomfort after surgery. It is common for the surgical area to be tender. Your doctor will give you pain medicine.
This surgery is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is four days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
After surgery, you may need chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
In the hospital, you will be given a clear liquid diet. You will be instructed to practice deep breathing and coughing to help your lungs recover.
When you are home, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions, including:
Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
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
National Cancer Institute
BC Cancer Agency
Canadian Cancer Society
Flores RM. Surgical management of primary mediastinal germ cell tumors. The Cardiothoracic Surgery Network website. Available at: http://www.ctsnet.... . Updated January 26, 2010. Accessed May 23, 2013.
Liu HP, Yim AP, Wan J, et al. Thorascopic removal of intrathoracic neurogenic tumors: a combined Chinese experience. Annals of Surgery . 2000;232:187-190.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ : 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 May 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 5/23/2013
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