Our team of thoracic surgeons treats both cancerous and non-cancerous mediastinal tumors. These tumors form in the chest area that contains the heart, aorta (the body's largest artery), esophagus, thymus (one of the glands), trachea, lymph nodes, and nerves.

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Treatments & Services

Mediastinal tumor treatment depends on whether or not the tumor is cancerous, its stage, and the patient’s overall health. After taking all of these factors into consideration, the surgeon may recommend:


The surgeon makes an incision in the center of your chest and separates the sternum (breastbone). The surgeon then locates and removes the tumor.

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Thoracotomy involves the surgeon making an incision in your side, back, or in some cases between your ribs, to gain access to the desired area.

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Minimally Invasive Tumor Removal

Video-Assisted Thorascopic Surgery (VATS) is a minimally invasive alternative to open chest surgery that involves less pain and recovery time. After giving you a sedative, the physician will make tiny incisions in your chest and then insert a fiber-optic camera called a thorascope as well as surgical instruments. As the physician moves the thorascope around, images that provide important information are projected on a video monitor. VATS is not appropriate for all patients; you should have a thorough discussion with your provider before making a decision. It is often not recommended in people who have had chest surgery in the past, because remaining scar tissue can make accessing the chest cavity more challenging and thus riskier.

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Robotic-Assisted Mediastinal Tumor Resection

The surgeon uses a computer-controlled device that moves, positions, and manipulates surgical tools based on the surgeon's movements. The surgeon sits at a computer console with a monitor and the camera provides a three-dimensional view of the heart that is magnified ten times greater than a person's normal vision. The surgeon's hands control the robotic arms to perform the procedure.

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Diagnostics and Tests

The multidisciplinary medical team at the Center for Thoracic Oncology will work with the patient and their primary care physician to diagnose the patient’s tumor.

The doctor might recommend tests including:

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

CT scans use x-ray equipment and computer processing to produce 2-dimensional images of the body. The patient lies on a table and passes through a machine that looks like a large, squared-off donut.

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

This test uses a magnetic field, radiofrequency pulses, and a computer to produce detailed images of body structures in multiple planes. Some people may need an IV put in place so caregivers can inject a contrast solution into their veins. This depends on the exam the doctor has ordered. MRI is a more detailed tool than x-ray and ultrasound and for certain organs or areas of the body, it provides better images than CT.

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Mediastinotomy and Mediastinoscopy

When performing a mediastinotomy, the surgeon makes a two-inch incision into the center of your chest cavity (the mediastinum) to evaluate and remove tumors in your heart and lung area.

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Needle Biopsy

Your physician applies an anesthetic (numbing agent) and, guided by CT scan or X-ray, inserts a needle into you to obtain a tissue sample for analysis.

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Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan

A PET scan is used to detect cellular reactions to sugar. Abnormal cells tend to react and "light up" on the scan, thus helping physicians diagnose a variety of conditions. For the PET scan, a harmless chemical, called a radiotracer, is injected into your blood stream.

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Pulmonary Function Test (PFT)

To understand how well your lungs are working, your physician may order a series of pulmonary function tests. With each breath you take in and breathe out, information is recorded about how much air your lungs take in, how the air moves through your lungs and how well your lungs deliver oxygen to your bloodstream.

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Stress Test

A stress test is used to gain more information about how your heart functions during exercise. Your physician will monitor your heartbeat and blood flow as you walk on a treadmill, and will then be able to diagnose any problems as well as plan treatment.

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Thoracic Surgeons