Skip to content

Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Mediastinoscopy

Mediastinoscopy is a surgical procedure to examine the inside of the upper chest between and in front of the lungs (mediastinum).

During a mediastinoscopy camera.gif, a small cut (incision) is made in the neck just above the breastbone or on the left side of the chest next to the breastbone. Then a thin scope (mediastinoscope) is inserted through the opening. A tissue sample (biopsy) can be collected through the mediastinoscope and then examined under a microscope for lung problems, such as infection, inflammation, or cancer.

In many cases mediastinoscopy has been replaced by other biopsy methods that use computed tomography (CT), echocardiography, or bronchoscopy to guide a biopsy needle to the abnormal tissue. Mediastinoscopy may still be needed when these methods can't be used or when they don't provide conclusive results.

Why It Is Done

Mediastinoscopy is done to:

  • Detect problems of the lungs and mediastinum, such as sarcoidosis.
  • Diagnose lung cancer or lymphoma (including Hodgkin's disease). Mediastinoscopy is often done to check lymph nodes in the mediastinum before considering lung removal surgery to treat lung cancer. Mediastinoscopy can also help your doctor recommend the best treatment (surgery, radiation, chemotherapy) for lung cancer.
  • Diagnose certain types of infection, especially those that can affect the lungs (such as tuberculosis).

How To Prepare

You will be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the test and agree to have it done.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. Be sure to discuss with your doctor what may be done following each possible biopsy result. If a lymph node contains cancer, surgery may be done to remove the cancer while you are still asleep. To help you understand the importance of this procedure, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

Before you have a mediastinoscopy, tell your doctor if you:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 01, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

man coughing
You may not even know you have it.
blood clot
Signs of this potentially fatal complication.
 
man coughing
When a cold becomes bronchitis.
human lungs
Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup.
 

Bronchitis Overview
SLIDESHOW
Copd Myth Fact Quiz
QUIZ
 
Living With Copd
VIDEO
Energy Boosting Foods
SLIDESHOW
 

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cigarette butts snuffed out in ashtray
SLIDESHOW
Healthy Home Health Check
TOOL
 
Senior woman stretching
Article
Diagnosing Copd
VIDEO
 

WebMD Special Sections