Mediastinal Tumor Resection
by Diana Kohnle
The mediastinum is surrounded by the breastbone in front, the spine in back, and the lungs on each side. Mediastinal tumor resection removes tumors in this area of the chest cavity.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
Cancerous tumors must be removed to prevent local tissue damage and the spread of cancer. Without removal or treatment, the cancer could spread to other areas of the body. The cancer could also start to compress organs in the chest, such as the heart, lungs, esophagus, or spinal cord.
Possible Complications TOP
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Before the surgery, your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to the surgery:
General anesthesia—you will be asleep during the procedure
Description of the Procedure TOP
You will have a breathing tube and be given an IV. The IV will be used to give you medications and fluids during the surgery.
To remove the tumor, the doctor will make one large, central incision in the chest, an incision between the ribs, or several small incisions. If several small incisions are made, a camera will be inserted into one incision. The camera will allow the doctor to view the area via monitor. Through the other incisions, surgical tools will be inserted.
Tubes may be inserted into your chest. These tubes will help to drain fluid and air from the chest cavity. The incisions will be closed with staples or stitches.
Immediately After Procedure TOP
The breathing tube will be removed. You will be monitored closely for any complications from the procedure.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
About 1-4 hours depending on the type of surgery
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Average Hospital Stay TOP
This surgery is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 4 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
Post-procedure Care TOP
At the Hospital
After your recover from surgery, you may need chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
You will be given a clear liquid diet.
You will be instructed to practice deep breathing and coughing to help your lungs recover.
Any chest tubes will be removed before you go home.
When you are home:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
Call Your Doctor TOP
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
BC Cancer Agency
Canadian Cancer Society
Flores RM. Surgical management of primary mediastinal germ cell tumors. The Cardiothoracic Surgery Network website. Available at:
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Updated January 26, 2010. Accessed May 23, 2013.
Liu HP, Yim AP, et al. Thorascopic removal of intrathoracic neurogenic tumors: a combined Chinese experience. Ann Surg. 2000;232(2):187-190.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
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Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 1/23/2014