What is Thoracic Surgery?

Thoracic Surgery includes all the medical surgeries done on the human chest area including Lungs, Heart, Trachea, Trauma, the Chest Wall and Oesophagus (the tube between the mouth and the stomach). Lung Transplant, Heart transplant, Open Heart Surgery, Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery and specific part removal of the lungs come at the top of Thoracic Surgery list.

A pulmonologist who treats lungs; an oncologist who treats lung cancer and oesophageal cancer and a cardiac surgeon: all come under the badge of Thoracic surgeon.

Thoracic treatment in Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is one of the most complicated Thoracic treatments. Removing tumours, lymph and nodules for diagnosis purpose and treating the disease altogether come under the pulmonary cancer treatment. There are multiple ways of treating fatal pulmonary diseases by operation:

Wedge resection: All the tissues surrounding the tumour and the tumour itself are surgically removed.

Anatomical segmental resection: Where the malignant tumour is located, the lymphatic drainage, the blood vessels and the lung segment are removed along with removing the tumour from where it had originated in this treatment.

Pneumonectomy: In this process, the whole lung is removed along with the lymph nodes.

Lobectomy: The entire lung-lobe along with the lymph nodes is removed.

Pleurectomy: Here the chest cavity is operated for removing the inner lining.

Sublobar resection: In this surgery, a part of the lobe of the lung is removed.

Thoracic Surgery procedures

Thoracic surgery can be done in 2 ways: Traditional Open Surgery Methods and Minimally Invasive Techniques.

Traditional Open Surgery Method
Open surgery is generally opted when a large portion of the inner chest or the lung is needed to be seen. Both for removing a part of the lung by Lobectomy or removing the entire lung by Pneumonectomy, open surgery method is desirable. This traditional method of surgery is used in cardiac surgeries as well.

Minimally Invasive Surgeries

Video-assisted Thoracic Surgery:  The entire operation is done with the help of a long and thin tube with a camera attached. The entire arrangement is called Thoracoscopy. The tube is inserted by a small incision in the chest. Special associated instruments are also inserted in the body. Through the camera, the doctors will run the operation in accordance with the continuous video from the Thoracoscope in the OT.

Robotic thoracic surgery: In almost the same way as above, a Thoracoscopy is inserted in the patient’s chest. Instead of directly operating, the surgeon operates at a console. Here the console follows the hand, wrist and finger movements of the surgeon.

An enriched Thoracic Surgery team consists of pathologists, oncologists, radiologists, gastroenterologists, pulmonologists and other medical specialists as per specific case’s requirement. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners also enrich the team. Especially for the post-treatment cure, associate practitioners like the respiratory therapists, the pain relievers, the physical therapists and the pharmacists complete the structure of this extensive long pre-surgery, surgery and post-surgery care.

One more lung surgery is Lung volume reduction surgery that comes under Thoracic surgery category.

Lung volume reduction surgery: This surgery is done mostly on Emphysema and COPD patients for a better quality of life. Here, the particular parts of the lung that are damaged the most are surgically removed and the rest portion is kept intact for further growth and rapid function. Patients who are suffering from end-stage COPD and are also diagnosed with underlying emphysema are specially prescribed with Lung volume reduction surgery for better Elastic recoil of lung and the diaphragmatic function.

Advancement of heart surgery in modern days

The Off-pump Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery or the Beating-heart Surgery has replaced the conventional Cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) and this was one of the most prominent step-forwards of the medical industry. With this procedure, during bypass surgery, the heart beats at its own rhythm while connecting to the conduit vessel for releasing the blockage.

How to know you are choosing the best Thoracic Surgery Institute in India?

Today, there are multitudes of medical institutions that are into chest surgery, heart bypass surgery and multiple other Cardio-thoracic surgeries. But, the more the list of hospitals is lengthening, the tougher it’s becoming for the patient and the families to decide on which to rely on.

Here are few points you mandatorily should check before leaping into a decision:

  • The hospital must have specialised units for thoracic surgery with proper logistical and economic framework.
  • All the procedures should be followed according to the recommended medical standards.
  • Research how sound knowledge surgical trainees have on that specific subject.
  • Also study how much research work happen at the hospital.


Content Reviewed By: Dr. Manav Manchanda