A mediastinoscopy is a procedure used to examine the mediastinum. This is the space behind the breastbone (sternum) in the middle of the chest, between the 2 lungs. It contains:
This area can be examined with a tool called a mediastinoscope. This is a long, thin, flexible tube that has a light and a tiny camera. It lets a healthcare provider see the organs and structures of the mediastinum. The images can also be sent to a computer screen and recorded.
The procedure is most often done to remove lymph nodes when a person has lung cancer. The nodes are examined to help see how far the cancer has spread. This can help determine the best treatment choices for lung cancer.
It can also be used to find problems such as:
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to advise a mediastinoscopy.
All procedures have some risks. The risks of this procedure may include:
Your risks may vary depending on your general health and other factors. Ask your healthcare provider which risks apply most to you. Talk with him or her about any concerns you have.
In some cases, a person shouldn’t have a mediastinoscopy. Reasons for this can include:
Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure to you. Ask him or her any questions you have. Surgery may be done during the procedure, if needed. Your healthcare provider will tell you more. You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives permission to do the procedure. Read the form carefully. Ask questions if anything is not clear.
Tell your healthcare provider if you:
Make sure to:
You may have blood tests or other tests or exams before the procedure. Your healthcare provider will tell you more.
The way the procedure is done and how long you are in the hospital will vary. It depends on your condition and your healthcare provider's methods. In most cases, the procedure will follow this process:
After the procedure, you will spend some time in a recovery room. You may be sleepy and confused when you wake up from general anesthesia or sedation. Your healthcare team will watch your vital signs, such as your heart rate and breathing. You may have a chest X-ray after the procedure. This is to check for bleeding or air in the pleural space.
Your incision will be checked for bleeding before you leave. Keep the incision area clean and dry. Your healthcare provider will give you bathing instructions. If stitches were used, they will be removed during a follow-up appointment. If adhesive strips were used, they should be kept dry. They will likely fall off in a few days.
You can take pain medicine as advised by your healthcare provider. Aspirin and certain other pain medicines may increase bleeding. Make sure to take only the medicines your healthcare provider advises.
At home, you can go back to your normal diet and activities if instructed by your healthcare provider. You may need to not do strenuous physical activity for a few days.
Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the below:
Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions after the procedure.