A mediastinoscopy is a diagnostic procedure of the lymph nodes in the middle of the chest, around the airways and between the lungs. Your physician may remove some tissue for further analysis. 

Keyhole surgery

A mediastinoscopy is a keyhole surgery: a laparoscopic procedure behind the sternum, in the upper part of the chest cavity where your airways are. This area is also known as the mediastinum, the cavity between the two lungs. A mediastinoscopy is a diagnostic procedure in which tissue biopsies are taken from the lymph nodes in the cavity for further analysis. Lymph nodes in the mediastinum can offer us important information to recommend a preferred treatment plan. You will be under general anesthesia during the procedure. 

A mediastinoscopy - how does it work?

Your surgeon will look into the mediastinum behind the sternum through a small incision in the neck, right above the sternum, using a small tube with light source (mediastinoscope). The mediastinum contains your heart, airways, esophagus, blood vessels (such as the aorta), nerves, lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels. Your surgeon can take tissue biopsies from the lymph nodes along the airways using small instruments for microscopic analysis. Once the biopsies have been taken, the incision will be stitched shut. 


The procedure will take about an hour. Most patients won't have to spend the night at the hospital. 

After the procedure

The procedure should not cause pain. You may feel pressure behind your sternum for a day or two, and your neck may be a little stuff. You will be able to eat and drink as normal very soon. 


The results of the tissue biopsy analysis may take several days (seven to ten weekdays) to come in. Your pulmonologist or surgeon will discuss the results with you.


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