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Thoracotomy is an extensive surgical procedure that exposes the patients’ lungs, heart diaphragm trachea to the doctor. It is a 4 to 10-inch long incision made on any side of the chest. It helps the doctor to perform wedge resection, lobectomy, pneumonectomy, segmentectomy, extrapleural pneumonectomy and pleurectomy/decortication like major surgical treatments to manage the lung cancer.
Before the surgery, the doctor would run several tests (including blood tests, MRI, x-ray, CT scan and more) to assess the function of patients’ heart, lungs, and overall health. In the surgery, the patients are placed under general anesthesia. The doctors place the patient on his side with arm elevated. Then makes an opening upper back to the side of the rib cage and spread the muscles to open the chest cavity. Now the doctor can perform the suitable surgery to treat the issue. In this procedure, one or two chest tube is placed to let blood, air and drain out the fluid for a few days. A patient who has gone through a thoracotomy needs to stay in the ICU for a couple of days before shifting to the normal hospital room. On an average, he needs to stay for 4 to 10 days in the hospital. However, it takes several months to recover fully from this open chest surgery.
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There Are Several Approaches To Thoracotomy:

  • Posterolateral thoracotomy is performed by making an incision on the intercostals space on the back and widening the ribs to operate lungs and esophagus.
  • Median sternotomy gives wide access to the frontal mediastinum. It is appropriate for open-heart surgeries.
  • Anterolateral thoracotomy is generally performed to manage cardiac arrest. It opens up the frontal chest wall.
  • Bilateral anterolateral thoracotomy along with transverse sternotomy makes the largest incision that is generally used in thoracic surgeries.
  • Aztec thoracotomy gives quick access to the pericardium and the heart. It consists of a frontal thoracic incision and following a perpendicular direction along the rib cartilage intersection.
  • VATS or video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery is performed by introducing a tiny video camera into the chest. The surgeon is able to see inside. They are introduced into the chest through separate holes (ports). It allows the patient to recover and heal faster.
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Why Thoracotomy For Mesothelioma?

In order to treat and manage pleural and pericardial mesothelioma, doctors generally perform two different surgeries; EPP and P/D. For this, a thoracotomy is performed first to give the doctor full access to the heart and lungs. It helps the doctor to remove the infected lung and other parts with cancerous growth.

Cost For Thoracotomy

There are several factors that decide the cost of thoracotomy like the approach, how big the incision would be hospital charges. It is not a stand-alone treatment; it is a part of the mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancer surgery. The cost of thoracotomy is included in the cost of the surgery. Do check it with your doctor.
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Side Effects Of Thoracotomy

Patients commonly experience pain and shortness of breath after the surgery. However one may have an infection, breathing problems, fever more than 100.5 degrees, leg pain, chest pain, palpitations, swelling or bleeding from the site of incision, putrid drainage from the incision, nausea, vomiting, severe coughing, and persevering constipation. It takes several weeks to recover fully so one must avoid lifting heavy objects and arduous activity for next couple of months. Follow what your doctor recommends! Take care of yourself.
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