Cardiothoracic Surgery- Everything You Need Know

Januari 11, 2021

There was a specific surgical discipline of thoracic surgery by 1940. Its main focus was tuberculosis and bronchiectasis. It gradually evolved as a surgical treatment of organs inside the chest and rib cage that mainly includes lung (lung diseases), esophagus, and thymus. 

Oftentimes, thoracic surgery is interchangeably used with cardiothoracic surgery and cardiovascular surgery. However, all three of them are separate medical specialties and focus on different organs and human diseases. So, it would be wrong to call them one.

Who Performs Thoracic Surgeries? 

All surgeries that come under the umbrella of thoracic surgery are performed by highly-qualified and experienced thoracic surgeons or lung specialists. 

At our thoracic surgery center (ICTS), DR. Aneej performs most of the thoracic surgeries. He is a senior thoracic surgeon with several years of experience in various thoracic surgeries. He is a well-known robot-assisted specialist of cardiothoracic surgery in Singapore. By now, he has successfully performed a large number of thoracic and robotic surgeries at ICTS.

Typically, a  thoracic surgeon is someone who pursues years of medical education and training to become a fully qualified thoracic surgeon. It comprises an undergraduate degree (in pre-med), a medical degree, and years of practice.

What Diseases and Conditions Does Thoracic Surgery Deal With? 

As we mentioned above, thoracic surgery deals with the organs inside the thorax (the chest) and rib cage. That means, it mainly treats lung, esophagus, thymus, and trachea related diseases. Such diseases include:

  • Lung Cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Pleural effusion 
  • Pneumothorax
  • Oesophageal cancer
  • Pulmonary nodules
  • Tracheal tumors and tracheal stenosis
  • Thymoma and thymic carcinoma

What are the Possible Symptoms of Thoracic Diseases? 

Thoracic diseases have different symptoms depending on what type of disease or medical condition it is. It also depends on the stage of the disease. They may be different for men and women as they depend on various factors. 

Let’s check out some most common lung diseases and their possible signs and symptoms. 

Symptoms for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is commonly referred to as COPD. It is a group of progressive lung diseases that mainly includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. This lung disease blocks airflow and makes it difficult to breathe for the patient. The possible signs and symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough 
  • Dry cough 
  • Wheezing
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Fatigue 
  • Chest pressure
  • Sudden weight loss 
  • Loss of muscles  

Symptoms for Lung Cancer 

Lung cancer is a life-threatening lung disease. It is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. It is a type of cancer that begins in the lungs due to the uncontrollable growth of cells. Mainly, it occurs in those people who smoke and consume certain toxins. However, it can also occur in those people who have never smoked. It is a condition in which cells grow out of control. 

The possible signs and symptoms for lung cancer often do not appear in the initial stage, but once it gets advanced, patients may experience:

  • Dry cough (often with blood)
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing 
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Fatigue 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness 
  • Frequent respiratory infections 
  • Hoarseness 

Symptoms of Pleural Effusion

Pleural effusion is also referred to as “water on lungs” or “fluid in the chest”. There is an excessive fluid build-up between the tissues that line the lungs and the chest. 

The possible signs and symptoms of pleural effusion are:

  • Shortness of breath 
  • Coughing
  • Sharp chest pain 

Symptoms of Pneumothorax

Pneumothorax is a collapsed lung. It is a condition in which air leaks into the space between the lung and chest wall. This leaked air puts pressure on the outside of your lung and makes it collapse. 

The possible signs and symptoms of pleural effusion are:

  • Sudden chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast heart rate 
  • Coughing 

Symptoms of Oesophageal Cancer

Oesophageal Cancer is a type of cancer that occurs anywhere in the esophagus (sometimes called food pipe or gullet). The esophagus is a tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Oesophageal Cancer mainly occurs due to smoking and acidic reflux in your body. 

The possible signs and symptoms of Oesophageal Cancer are:

  • Heartburn
  • Hoarseness
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing 
  • Indigestion

Symptoms of Pulmonary Nodules

Pulmonary Nodules are also called “Lung Nodules.” They are round-shaped small masses of tissue in the lungs. They can be spotted as round-shaped shadows on a chest X-Ray or computerized tomography. They can be cancerous. 

The possible signs and symptoms of Pulmonary Nodules include:

  • Wheezing 
  • Coughing 
  • Coughing up blood 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Fever

Symptoms of Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma

Thymoma and thymic carcinoma are conditions in which malignant cells form on the outside surface of the thymus (a small organ that lies in the upper chest under the breastbone). 

The patients with thymoma and thymic carcinoma do not have many symptoms. But they may experience the following symptoms:

  • Persistent cough 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Chest pain and pressure in the chest

What are the Most Common Causes of Lung Diseases?

Different types of lung diseases occur due to different reasons. However, there are certain causes that are common for most lung diseases. Let’s check out those common causes of lung diseases.  

The Most Common Causes of Lung Diseases

  • Smoking 
  • Air pollution
  • Household elements that include asbestos, bird protein, mold, and radon 
  • Certain medical conditions such as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, lupus, pulmonary vasculitis, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, and undifferentiated connective tissue disease
  • Certain treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy 
  • Family history

Types of Lung Screening and Lung Surgeries A Thoracic Surgeon Performs

A thoracic surgeon performs different types of lung screening and surgeries for different lung diseases. A few of them are as follows: 

Early CT-CDT Screening 

Early CT-CDT lung screening is simply screening of your lungs to detect if you have any lung disease such as lung cancer. In this process, firstly, a thoracic surgeon performs a consultation session with you to discuss your problem and explain to you about the whole screening process. After that, the surgeon tests your blood to identify if you have an increased risk of lung cancer. He/she also performs low-dose computed tomography (CT-Scan) to see the detailed image of your lungs and to identify if you have any lung disease. This scan is painless and done within a minute. After performing blood tests and scans, the surgeon reviews your scans and prepares a final report for further procedures. 

Open Surgery For Lung Diseases 

Open surgery for lung diseases is a type of surgery where a thoracic surgeon makes a cut in particular part of the chest of the patient, opens the chest, then performs the surgery on the lungs, esophagus, thymus, or trachea as required. This is the traditional method of lung surgery. According to Wikipedia, it was discovered by Wilfred G. Bigelow of the University of Toronto. 

These types of surgeries have certain limitations and pose risks such as:

  • They require big incisions on the chest 
  • Can lead to too much blood loss
  • Can lead to a blood clot
  • Slow recovery process 
  • Longer hospital stay 
  • Longer bed rest 

Minimally-Invasive Surgery 

As the name suggests, minimally-invasive surgery is a method of performing different surgical treatments with less blood loss, less pain, small incisions, a shorter hospital stay, and fewer complications. It is a recently developed and discovered method of performing surgical treatments. 

In this surgery, a surgeon uses different techniques and tools to minimize the possible damages to the patient's body. Robot-assisted or robotic surgery is one of the best and fastest adopted minimally-invasive surgeries.

In robotic surgery, a surgeon performs various surgeries using robots or machines. This leads to fewer damages to the patient’s body. 

This is useful for both the patients and surgeons. Here are a few advantages of robotic surgery.

Advantages of Robotic Surgery for Patients

  • It does not damage the patient’s body 
  • It minimizes the blood loss
  • It leads to less pain
  • It does not lead to noticeable scars on the patient’s body 
  • It promotes faster recovery 
  • It leads to fewer complications and risks
  • It allows patients to have a short hospital stay
  • It allows patients to easily survive the post-surgery period 
  • It does not lead to surgical site infection post-surgery

Advantages of Robotic Surgery for Surgeons 

  • It provides flexibility to surgeons for conveniently and quickly performs the surgery 
  • It helps surgeons perform complex surgeries with more precision 
  • It provides full control to surgeons
  • It helps surgeons avoid the mess on and around the surgical site

These are some of the widely adopted lung screening methods and lung surgeries that thoracic surgeons perform for different types of surgical treatments of lung, trachea, thymus, and esophagus related diseases. 

In the end, we hope this piece of comprehensive reading has been informative and useful for you. For such health and medical field related information, stay in touch with us.

Similar Posts