(Cervical Mediastinoscopy; Cervical Mediastinal Exploration; CME)
by Alexandra Howson, PhD
The mediastinum is the area in the middle of the chest between the lungs. A mediastinoscopy is a procedure to look at this area inside the chest. A tube with a light (mediastinoscope) is placed into the upper chest through a small opening (mediastinotomy). The light allows the doctor to see the area.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
This is done to examine the lungs and chest. The doctor might take tissue samples ( biopsy). These samples are viewed under a microscope to check for diseases like:
Mediastinoscopy is also done to find out if lung cancer has spread.
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have mediastinoscopy, 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 this procedure.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to 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:
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.
Description of the Procedure TOP
Immediately After the Procedure TOP
After the procedure, you will be taken to the recovery room. If all is well, your breathing tube will likely be removed. The tissue samples will be sent to the laboratory for testing.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
30 minutes to 2 hours
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
General anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. Your doctor may give you pain medicine for pain and tenderness after the procedure.
Average Hospital Stay TOP
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.
Post-procedure Care TOP
At the Hospital
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Call Your Doctor TOP
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
Canadian Cancer Society
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Last reviewed June 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 6/20/2013