What is thoracic surgery?
Thoracic surgery is the surgical repair of the organs located in the thorax (or chest), including the lungs and the esophagus. Conditions treated include lung cancer, emphysema, lung collapse, or infection, as well as lung transplantation.
When should I see a specialist for thoracic surgery?
Your doctor may refer you to a cardiothoracic surgeon if you have present with indications or risk factors of common thoracic conditions such as:
● Lung nodules.
● Newly diagnosed oesophageal cancer.
● Trouble swallowing.
● Chest wall deformity.
Did you know?
Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) for infection or inflammatory conditions is uncommon as compared to lung cancer. It is technically more complicated but has numerous benefits for patients, such as shorter hospital stays. ¹
What are the risks of thoracic surgery?
As with any surgery, there are some potential risks involved with thoracic surgery and these may include:
● Myocardial infarction (heart attack).
● Nerve injury.
● Embolism (blood clot or air bubble that obstructs an artery).
● Lung collapse.
How should I prepare for my appointment?
Your doctor will review all aspects of your health and medical records before deciding on your surgical treatment. Be sure to bring all details of your medical history (including lab results) as well as that of your close blood relatives. Your doctor may require you to complete some additional diagnostic or therapeutic tests to evaluate and treat your condition.
In order to maximize your appointment with your cardiothoracic surgeon, be sure to prepare in advance any questions or concerns you may have. Your doctor will explain all aspects of your operation so you know what to expect before, during, and after your surgery.
What can I expect during thoracic surgery?
Your personal experience of thoracic surgery will depend on the type of surgery you require. However, generally speaking, you will wake up from your procedure in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or recovery room. You will be wearing a face mask or be connected to a breathing machine and you may feel disoriented at first.
After being monitored in an ICU, you will be released to a regular ward where a nursing team will measure your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and breathing (vital signs) on a regular basis. Your cardiothoracic surgeon will visit you regularly to assess your recovery. You will be allowed to return home 3-5 days post-surgery, depending on your procedure and your rate of recovery. On your discharge, you will be provided with detailed instructions and advice to follow for your continued recovery at home.
How do I maintain my cardiac health after thoracic surgery?
Post-surgery, you will need to take good care of your health. Your recovery will be carefully monitored by your specialist. Be sure to ask for their advice on any lifestyle changes you may need to introduce. In any case, it is essential to have a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, drink alcohol in moderation, stop smoking, introduce regular exercise, reduce stress, and avoid high blood pressure.Request an appointment with a cardiothoracic surgeon today.
 Thirugnanam A. Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery and open chest surgery in infectious lung diseases. J Vis Surg. 2017 Jan 6;3:3. doi: 10.21037/jovs.2016.12.03.