Thoracic surgery is used to treat many issues and diseases of the organs in the chest (thorax) including the lungs and esophagus. Some of the conditions that are commonly treated with thoracic surgery include:
- Lung Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer
- Benign and Malignant Tumors within the Chest Wall
- Paralysis of the Diaphragm
- Hiatal Hernia
Additionally, thoracic surgery may be implemented in areas of tissue or bony structures within the chest.
Thoracic surgery may require an open procedure, but most types of procedures can be handled using minimally-invasive techniques.
In some cases surgeons may be trained as cardiothoracic surgeons, who not only specialize in the lungs and esophagus, but also in the treatment of medical disorders that require surgery of the cardiac system (heart, arteries, veins, etc.). In many cases thoracic surgery is referred to interchangeably with cardiothoracic surgery.
Thoracic Surgery Types
There are several types of thoracic surgery that may involve the implementation of an open or minimally-invasive procedure. Some of the most common types of thoracic surgery include:
- Lung Volume Reduction – This procedure is most often used in the treatment of severe emphysema. The goal is to improve the functioning of healthy lung tissue by removing any unhealthy or diseased tissue in the lungs. An open procedure that requires exposing the lungs through the opening of the chest at the breastbone may be necessary, though it may also be possible to use a thoracoscope in a minimally-invasive procedure.
- Lobectomy – This procedure involves the removal of part of the lung known as a lobe. The left lung contains two lobes and the right lung contains three discrete lobes. Surgeons are often able to utilize a minimally-invasive method of lobe removal using VATS or Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery techniques that utilize small incisions and instruments that are specially designed for this purpose.
- Pneumonectomy – This thoracic surgery involves the removal of the entire lung that has been affected by disease or cancer. This must often been done using an open procedure.
- Thymectomy – In some patients the thymus gland may have tumors known as thymomas attached to it, which may result in or be caused by myasthenia gravis. Removal of these thymomas or the entire thymus gland through a thymectomy can result in the remission of this autoimmune neuromuscular disorder and is typically performed in an open chest procedure.
The thoracic surgeons at ASI can perform these procedures and many others in order to treat disorders and diseases of the thoracic organs.