Thoracic Surgery

Also known as: cardiothoracic surgery or thoracoscopy for mediastinal tumors, thymoma, myasthenia gravis surgery, esophageal replacement, tracheoesophageal fistula, bronchopulmonary malformation, CPAM, Congenital pulmonary airway malformation, pulmonary sequestration.

What is thoracic surgery?

Thoracic surgery is a general term used to define any surgical procedure that’s performed in or on the chest. It can be used to treat conditions such as esophageal problems, gastroesophageal reflux, lung malformations, tumors in the chest and rib reconstruction after a major injury.

What happens during the procedure?

The nature of thoracic surgery can vary widely depending on the type of problem that is present and the specific nature of the procedure. It may involve a large chest incision for open surgery, although minimally invasive procedures performed with video-assisted or robot-assisted techniques are becoming more prevalent.

Is any special preparation needed?

Most thoracic surgery procedures will require imaging with X-rays, CT or MRIs prior to the operation. Since most are performed under general anesthesia, your doctor may ask you to avoid food, drink and certain medications before the surgery.

What are the risk factors?

Infection, bleeding, nerve damage and injury to surrounding organs and tissues are potential risks of thoracic surgery.

What is the recovery like?

Many procedures in the chest require a short-term drain, called a chest tube, left in after surgery and removed in one or two days.  Patients who require open surgeries usually stay several days in the hospital while those who undergo minimally invasive or robotic surgery often leave within 24 hours of the operation and are back to normal activities within a week requiring open surgeries usually stay several days in the hospital.  A pain team is available to assist with making the recuperation as comfortable as possible.

Reviewed by: Cathy Anne Burnweit, MD

This page was last updated on: January 20, 2022 04:36 PM