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A mediastinoscopy is a procedure used to biopsy lymph nodes in the chest to diagnose cancers such as lymphoma or lung cancer.  Involving a small incision just above your breast bone, it allows your thoracic surgery specialist to gain access to the mediastinum, the middle part of the chest between your lungs and behind the breastbone (sternum).Your surgeon can then extract a small tissue sample for testing.

Preparing for a Mediastinoscopy

You may need to be seen by your primary care physician or medical oncologist prior to undergoing the procedure. Your pre-operative clearance will include a discussion of your medical history and a physical exam. You may also be required to undergo several diagnostic tests, including:

What to Expect

Generally an outpatient procedure, mediastinoscopy is performed under general anesthesia. Your NorthShore thoracic surgeon will make a small incision above your breastbone to insert a mediastinoscope. A long thin tube featuring a light and miniature camera, this surgical instrument provides your surgeon with an inside view of your mediastinum and access to the lymph nodes in question.

After the procedure, you will be monitored in the recovery room for several hours. In most cases, you will be able to go home later that day along with a prescription for oral pain medication.

You will want to arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure. 

For More Information

To schedule an appointment with one of our thoracic surgeons, please call 847.570.2868.