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The mediastinum is the area in the middle of the chest between the lungs. A mediastinotomy is the creation of a small opening in the upper chest into the mediastinum. This opening allows the doctor to examine the area between and in front of the lungs.
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This procedure is done to examine the lungs and chest. Your doctor might take tissue samples ( biopsy ). These samples are examined under a microscope to check for diseases like:
- Cancer of the lungs , bronchi, and chest tissue
- Lymphoma—cancer in the lymphatic system (eg, Hodgkin’s disease )
- Sarcoidosis —a condition that causes swelling (inflammation) in organs like the lungs, liver, lymph nodes, and spleen
Mediastinotomy is also done to find out if lung cancer has spread.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a mediastinotomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Chylothorax—leakage of lymphatic fluid into the chest
- Damage to organs in the chest
- Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Previous mediastinoscopy (a tube that lets your doctor see into your chest)
- Previous chest or neck surgery
- Diabetes or other chronic conditions
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before a mediastinotomy.
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After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the...