Mediastinoscopy is a surgical procedure to examine the inside of the upper chest between and in front of the lungs (mediastinum). During a mediastinoscopy , a small cut (incision) is made in the neck just above the breastbone or on the left side of the chest next to the breastbone. Then a thin scope (mediastinoscope) is inserted through the opening. A tissue sample (biopsy) can be collected through the mediastinoscope and then examined under a microscope for lung problems, such as infection, inflammation, or cancer.
In many cases mediastinoscopy has been replaced by other biopsy methods that use computed tomography (CT), echocardiography, or bronchoscopy to guide a biopsy needle to the abnormal tissue. Mediastinoscopy may still be needed when these methods can't be used or when they don't provide conclusive results.
Mediastinoscopy is done to:
Detect problems of the lungs and mediastinum, such as sarcoidosis.
Diagnose lung cancer or lymphoma (including Hodgkin's disease). Mediastinoscopy is often done to check lymph nodes in the mediastinum before considering lung removal surgery to treat lung cancer.
Mediastinoscopy can also help your doctor recommend the best treatment (surgery, radiation, chemotherapy) for lung cancer.
Diagnose certain types of infection, especially those that can affect the lungs (such as tuberculosis).