by Diana Kohnle
The mediastinum is an area in the chest between the sternum and the spine in back. A mediastinal tumor resection removes abnormal tissue in this area.
Regions of the Lung
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Tumors in this area can put pressure on heart, lungs, spine and esophagus. It can also effect nearby nerves and blood vessels. This surgery can help to remove the tumors to ease any problems they may have caused. It is often part of treatment for cancer in this area.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, such as:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
Before the surgery, your doctor may take images of structures inside your body using:
Leading up to the surgery:
General anesthesia —you will be asleep during the procedure
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 to 4 hours depending on the type of surgery
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medicine.
This surgery is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 4 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if problems arise.
Deep breathing exercises and coughing will help your lungs recover.
Intense activity like heavy lifting will be limited during recovery.
Alert your doctor to any problems such as:
If you think you have 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: https://www.ctsnet.org/article/surgical-management-primary-mediastinal-germ-cell-tumors. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Germ cell tumors. Brigham and Women's Hospital website. Available at: https://www.brighamandwomens.org/lung-center/diseases-and-conditions/germ-cell-tumors. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Liu HP, Yim AP, et al. Thorascopic removal of intrathoracic neurogenic tumors: a combined Chinese experience. Ann Surg. 2000;232(2):187-190.
6/3/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905141/Treatment-for-tobacco-use : Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed March 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review BoardNicole S. Meregian, PA
Last Updated: 1/26/2021