Thoracic Surgical Resection | MedStar Health

Surgical resection is the name given to a procedure during which part or all of a certain tissue or an organ is removed. An organ or tissue may need to be removed for various reasons, including disease, damage, or trauma.

Why surgical resection is performed

When organs or tissue are affected by a disease, such as cancer, it may be necessary to remove them in order to prevent the spread of the illness. Additionally, if an organ is damaged due to trauma or illness, it may be necessary to replace or reconstruct the organ. In this case, the tissue or organ to be replaced will first need to be removed.

Surgical resection of lung nodules and masses

Lung nodules and masses are abnormal growths that appear in the lungs. If the growth is smaller than three centimeters, it is referred to as a nodule. If the growth exceeds three centimeters in diameter, it is called a mass. Lung nodules and masses can either be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). If the growth is found to be cancerous, it will need to be removed.

Surgical resection of mediastinal masses

A mediastinal mass is a rare type of abnormal growth that appears in the mediastinum. The mediastinum is the area in the chest that lies between the two lungs, and between the breast bone and the spine. Organs that lie within the mediastinum include the aorta, esophagus, heart, thymus, and trachea.

Mediastinal masses can cause serious health complications due to their location. If left to grow too big, they can place pressure on the heart and other surrounding organs. For this reason, it is necessary to remove mediastinal masses even if they are benign.

Esophageal resection

The esophagus is the tube-like structure that connects the mouth and throat to the stomach. It is an important organ in digestion, as it facilitates the transfer of food and liquid to the stomach. Certain conditions or damage may require part or all of the esophagus to be removed. Some of these conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Trauma
  • Swallowing a chemical substance that causes severe damage to the esophagus
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Diseases that affect the function of the esophagus, like achalasia

What to expect during a surgical resection procedure

Resection of lung nodules or masses and mediastinal masses, as well as esophageal resection, all require patients to be under general anesthesia. These procedures can be performed either using minimally invasive techniques or using open surgical techniques. The type of surgery used will depend on the diagnosis. Additionally, the time it takes to complete the surgery will depend on the complexity of the diagnosis.

Risks associated with surgical resection

Surgical resection surgeries come with a wide range of risks, including:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Injury to the organs in the chest cavity

Benefits of surgical resection

Surgical resection provides significant benefits to patients diagnosed with complex conditions. Some of these benefits include:

  • Reducing and/or eliminating symptoms
  • Preventing the spread of cancer
  • Preventing further health complications

Additionally, specific types of resection surgeries, like minimally invasive surgery, provide additional benefits to patients when the surgery is applied in appropriate situations. These benefits can include:

  • Smaller incision size
  • Less risk of infection
  • Less postoperative pain
  • Quicker return to work and daily activities

How to prepare for surgical resection

Prior to surgery, the surgeon may require that the patient undergo various tests to analyze his/her overall health. It’s important to mention all medications to the surgeon, as there may be special instructions for how to take certain medications prior to surgery. In order to ensure a safe surgery, it’s important to follow all preoperative instructions outlined by the surgeon.

Post-surgical resection treatment

Immediately following a resection procedure, patients will be moved to the recovery unit and monitored for any complications. A hospital stay of one to two weeks, or even more, may be required, depending on the complexity of the surgery and the overall health of the patient.

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