What is a mediastinoscopy?
A mediastinoscopy is surgery done to explore the inside of the upper chest between and in front of the lungs (mediastinum). This includes the heart and great vessels, the trachea (windpipe), esophagus (feeding tube), bronchi (airways leading to the lungs), and lymph nodes. This surgery is often done if your lymph nodes look swollen or large on CT scans or to check for any spread of cancer.
This surgery is done under general anesthesia. Most often it takes 1-2 hours. Once you are asleep, a tube will be placed down your throat to keep your airway open and help you breathe. A small incision is made in the upper left chest just above your left collar bone (clavicle). Then, a small scope is placed through this small incision and into the mediastinum. Biopsies are taken and sent to a pathologist who can look at them under a microscope and decide whether there is inflammation, infection, or cancer. Once the biopsy is taken, the tube is removed, and you are wakened.
You will be taken to the recovery room. You will be watched for 2-4 hours as the anesthesia wears off. Most patients go home the same day. Some patients may need to stay overnight. You may have sutures (stitches), staples, or small steri-strips closing your skin. Steri-strips are used to keep the skin together and will fall off in 5-7 days. You may shower, but do not take a tub bath or swim until the incision is healed in 10-14 days.
Will I have pain?
You may have some discomfort or pain at the incision site. Most patients get pain relief with acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and non-steroidals (i.e. ibuprofen, Motrin®, Advil®). If you still have pain, you should call your health care provider.
Patients will be able to return to work in a week. Do not lift more 10-15 lbs. for the first 1-2 weeks.
When to call your doctor
- Bleeding from your incision.
- A fever over 100.4°F.
- Severe chest pain.
- Swelling in the neck.
- Shortness of breath.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Hoarseness of your voice that lasts more than a few days or keeps getting worse.
If you have any questions or problems, please call:
Surgery Clinic at (608) 263-7502, Monday-Friday, 8am – 4:30pm.
After hours, holidays and weekends, this will give you the paging operator. Ask for the Thoracic Surgery resident on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live outside the area, call toll-free at 1-800-323-8942.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 03/17/2011
Copyright © 03/17/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6262
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