A thoracoscopy is one method doctors use to help detect visual signs of pleural mesothelioma. It must be noted that his procedure alone does not confirm a diagnosis. Performing a biopsy along with a thoracoscopy is a technique that doctors find much more reliable.
The thoracoscopy procedure is minimally invasive. Only a few small incisions are made so that surgeons can insert a small fiber-optic camera into the chest area to examine for signs of mesothelioma. Doctors will search for signs such as nodule-like abnormal growths, pleural thickening, inflammation, and pleural plaques. Many tissues samples will be extracted while viewing the pleural space. All samples will be analyzed to determine if any other cancers of the chest area are present and to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Risks and Complications of a Thoracoscopy
Another chest surgery used to diagnose mesothelioma is called thoracotomy. This procedure holds a much higher risk after surgery than a thoracoscopy. Even though there are fewer risks with a thoracoscopy, tumor seeding is a possibility that concerns medical professionals. Seeding is when cancer cells continue to spread after a tumor is removed, although radiation therapy can assist in preventing seeding or tumor spread.
The Thoracoscopy Procedure
As with many other chest surgeries, before the procedure takes place, several tests will need to be administered. These include ultrasounds and X-rays of the chest. Results will assist doctors in guiding the fiber-optic camera to help complete the procedure most effectively and safely. Patients will be medicated so they can sleep for the duration of the procedure. A minor incision will be made near the tip of the scapula. Several more incisions will be made in the patients back or side in order to make it easier to insert the necessary instruments to complete the surgery.
Instruments may include an endoscope. The camera that is fitted to the endoscope will allow doctors to see inside the chest area using a video screen. At the completion of the surgery, temporary tubes will be inserted to help drain any excess fluid and air that has collected near the lungs. Post-operation, the medical team will help patients perform daily breathing and coughing exercises in order to prevent pneumonia. If any pain is present, medicine will be prescribed and given orally or through an IV.
Medical researchers consider a thoracoscopy an imperative diagnostic tool to determine if mesothelioma is present. Most patients who have a biopsy sample taken during a thoracoscopy typically find mesothelioma cells. The tissue samples also help doctors determine the level at which the cancer had spread to a patients diaphragm, parietal pleura, or visceral pleura. Determining the stage of the cancer is vital to the prescribing the most effective treatment plan for suffering patients. Multiple studies by medical researchers who study mesothelioma have identified suing thoracoscopy as a standard for obtaining the optimum diagnosis results and determining the staging of pleural mesothelioma.