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Mediastinoscopy with biopsy

Definition

Mediastinoscopy with biopsy is a procedure in which a lighted instrument (mediastinoscope) is inserted through the neck to examine the structures in the top of the chest cavity, and a sample of tissue is taken.

Why the Test is Performed

This procedure is used to diagnose a variety of diseases when other tests (such as sputum cytology, lung scans, radiography, and bronchoscopic biopsies) do not provide a diagnosis. It is also used to assist in the staging of lung cancer.

How the Test is Performed

This procedure is done in the hospital. You will be given general anesthesia so that you are asleep and do not feel any pain.

A tube (endotracheal tube) is placed in your nose or mouth to help you breathe. A surgical cut is made in the neck. A device called a mediastinoscope is inserted through this incision into the mid-part of the chest.

Tissue samples are taken, usually of the lymph nodes surrounding the airways. The scope is then taken out. The opening is closed with stitches.

How to Prepare for the Test

You must sign an informed consent form. You will not be able to have food or fluid for 8 hours before the test.

How the Test Will Feel

You will be unconscious during the procedure. There will be some tenderness at the site of the procedure afterward. You may have a sore throat after the test.

Risks

There is a risk of puncturing the esophagus, trachea, or blood vessels. In some circumstances, this can lead to potentially fatal bleeding.

Normal Results

There are no abnormal lymph node tissues.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal findings may indicate:


Review Date: 5/15/2008
Reviewed By: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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