Surgical Treatment of Thoracic Conditions

Thoracic Surgery at Medstar Washington Hospital Center

Thoracic surgery focuses on the treatment of conditions and disorders of the thorax (chest) region of the body. This includes the surgical treatment of organs such as the esophagus, trachea, diaphragm, lungs, and the mediastinum (the area between the two lungs).

At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, our thoracic surgeons are highly experienced in various minimally invasive as well as open, complex surgical techniques for the treatment of thoracic disorders.

Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery

MedStar Washington Hospital Center focuses on the quality of care by offering cutting-edge, minimally invasive thoracic surgery. Minimally invasive surgery uses several small incisions, approximately a quarter of an inch in length, and special instruments to offer patients significant benefits, such as:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Less time in the operating room
  • Significantly less postoperative pain
  • Faster recovery times
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Quicker return to daily activities

The type of surgery performed will be determined after a thorough examination of the patient’s symptoms as well as findings from diagnostic procedures. Thoracic surgeons at MedStar Washington Hospital understand that each patient’s diagnosis is unique. For this reason, the treatment plan for each patient is crafted to meet the specific needs and goals of the individual in order to maintain optimal health and restore quality of life.

Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic​ ​(VATS)​ Surgery

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, also referred to as VATS, is a procedure used to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the chest. This procedure is performed by making several small incisions in the chest. Through one incision, a special instrument called a thoracoscope is inserted. A thoracoscope is a thin, flexible tube that has a camera and light attached to the end. When inserted into the chest cavity, it projects an image onto a screen that allows the surgeon to view the chest cavity during surgery. Surgical instruments are inserted through the remaining incisions and used to perform the surgery.

Laparoscopic​ Surgery

In thoracic surgery, laparoscopic techniques are used when a condition of the esophagus or trachea also involves or affects the stomach, such as in achalasia . Laparoscopic surgery is the name given to a surgical technique that involves the use of a laparoscope, an instrument used to view the abdominal cavity.

Robotic​ ​Thoracic Surgery

Robotic-assisted thoracic surgery is a surgical technique that allows the surgeon to operate in spaces in the chest cavity that are small or difficult to access. With the assistance of a robotic system, surgeons can be more precise while having more dexterity. First, a few tiny incisions are made in the chest, where a camera and special surgical tools are inserted. Then, the surgeon uses the robotic console to look around the chest region and carefully operate on the affected area.

Open Thoracic Surgery

Certain complex diagnoses, such as lung cancer , may require an open surgical approach. Open surgery is performed when the affected area is too big, or when the diagnosis is too complex to be managed using minimally invasive techniques. Open surgery requires one large incision and is often associated with more risks than minimally invasive surgery. However, open surgery allows surgeons to work directly with the affected tissues and organs. In some cases, open surgery can prove to be a safer, more effective option. The type of surgery recommended for each patient will vary depending on his/her diagnosis as well as the overall health of the individual.

Make an Appointment

For an appointment with a specialist, call 202-877-3627.