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USC - University of Southern California Cardiothoracic Surgery at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine
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Glossary of Terms

An operation in which the surgeon uses an instrument known as a mediastinoscope to examine a portion of the chest cavity known as the "mediastinum". A mediastinoscope is a metal tube that has a lighting system that allows the surgeon to see down the scope into the mediastinum. The mediastinum is subdivided into different sections. The mediastinoscopy procedure is generally done to look into the posterior mediastinum. A mediastinoscopy requires general anesthesia and is done through a small (approx. 1 inch) incision just above the notch in the breast bone. A mediastinoscopy is used to obtain biopsies (pieces) of lymph nodes located in the mediastinum to see if a lung cancer has spread. If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, most lung cancers would be considered non-operable.


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