How to Say It: Mee-dee-ah-stine-OT-oh-mee
A mediastinotomy is surgery to make a small opening in the space between the lungs (mediastinum).
The Lungs (Cut-away View)
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This procedure is done to examine the lungs and chest. It may be used with a biopsy to check for:
It is also done to see if lung cancer has spread.
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
The care team may meet with you to talk about:
The doctor will give you general anesthesia. You will be asleep.
A small incision will be made in the chest above the breastbone. A small tube with a light (mediastinoscope) will be inserted. It will let the doctor see the space between the lungs and chest. Tissue samples may be taken from the lungs, lymph nodes, or other parts of the chest. The tube will be removed. The incision will be closed with stitches. A bandage will be placed over the site.
Right after the procedure, the staff may give you pain medicines. A chest x-ray may be taken to check for bleeding or air inside your chest space.
The tissue samples will be sent to the laboratory for testing.
30 minutes to 2 hours
Pain is common in the first few days. Medicine and home care can help.
The usual length of stay is up to 24 hours. If you have problems, you may need to stay longer.
Right after the procedure, the staff may give you pain medicines.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:
It will take a few weeks for the incision to heal. Physical activity may be limited during this time. You may need to delay your return to work.
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
American Lung Association
Canadian Cancer Society
Berania I, Kazakov B, et. al. Endoscopic Mediastinal Staging in Lung Cancer Is Superior to "Gold Standard" Surgical Staging. Ann Thorac Surg. 2016 Feb;101(2):547-50.
Chamberlain procedure. Roswell Park Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.roswellpark.org/glossary/chamberlain-procedure Accessed January 15, 2021.
Mediastinoscopy and mediastinotomy. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pulmonary-disorders/diagnostic-and-therapeutic-pulmonary-procedures/mediastinoscopy-and-mediastinotomy. Accessed January 15, 2021.
Sarcoidosis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sarcoidosis-in-adults. Accessed January 15, 2021.
Last reviewed February 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 1/15/2021