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.
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.
What to Expect
Prior to the 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:
You will be asked to remove any jewelry, glasses, contact lenses, or dentures.
You may be given medicines to help you feel sleepy and relaxed.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any allergies.
You will need someone to drive you home after 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
You will lie on your back on an operating table.
Your skin will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution.
The doctor will make a small cut in your chest.
The doctor will move your muscles aside so that she can examine the space between your lungs and heart.
She may take tissue samples from your lungs, lymph nodes, or other parts of your chest.
When the procedure is finished, she will close the opening with stitches.
The wound will be covered with a dressing.
Immediately After the Procedure
After the procedure, you will be taken to the recovery room. If all is well, your breathing tube will be removed. The tissue samples will be sent to the laboratory for testing.
How Long Will It Take?
30 minutes to 2 hours
How Much Will It Hurt?
General anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. Your doctor may give you pain medicine for pain and tenderness after the procedure.
Average Hospital Stay
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.
At the Hospital
You will be taken to the recovery room after the procedure until the anesthetic wears off.
Your doctor may order a chest x-ray to check for bleeding or air inside your chest space.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
You may feel sleepy for several hours or even 1-2 days following anesthesia. Do not drive during this time.
You may have a sore throat from the tube placement.
Use throat lozenges.
Gargle with warm water.
Keep your wound clean and dry.
Wash your hands before touching the wound.
Use a soft washcloth to gently wipe the wound with soap and water.
Change the dressing as instructed by your doctor.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
Redness, swelling, pain, or bleeding from the wound
Swelling in the neck
Hoarseness that lasts more than a few days or worsens
Shortness of breath
Signs of infection, including fever and chills
Joint pain, fatigue, stiffness, rash, or other new symptoms
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a