What is a Thoracic Surgeon?
A thoracic surgeon is a doctor who operates on the heart, lungs, oesophagus, and major blood vessels within the chest/thorax, in addition to bony structures and tissues that form the chest cavity. Thoracic surgeons treat an entire spectrum of both benign and malignant conditions in the chest.
A thoracic surgeon may specialise in areas such as adult cardiac surgery, paediatric heart surgery, or general thoracic surgery, which can cover organs such as the lungs, chest wall, etc. Thoracic surgery is an overall broad discipline that encompasses many fields of medicine.
Thoracic surgeons in Singapore are doctors who have obtained medical degrees and who have undergone further postgraduate training to train in the field of thoracic surgery. During the course of their specialist training, thoracic surgeons will often obtain further postgraduates qualifications such as a Masters of Medicine and a Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) specialist certification, which is obtained after passing the MRCS, an intercollegiate exam for surgical trainees.
What Conditions Does a Thoracic Surgeon Treat?
A thoracic surgeon is able to treat many different types of conditions that may be related to the organs and tissues found in the chest wall, such as the heart, lungs, oesophagus, and chest wall reconstruction. Such disorders include but are not limited to:
- Heart valve disorders
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart transplants
- Lung cancers, including mesotheliomas
- Pleural effusion
- Lung transplant
Gastrointestinal tract conditions
- Oesophageal cancer
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Chest wall reconstruction
Reasons to See a Thoracic Surgeon
In Singapore, you may be referred to see a thoracic surgeon if you experience the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Frequent fainting spells
- Coughing out blood (haemoptysis)
- Heartburn/gastric reflux
Overall, there are many reasons that you or a loved one may require a consult with a thoracic surgeon.
Any illness, medical condition, accident, growth, or disease in the chest area may require the expertise of a thoracic surgeon who will be able to diagnose your condition and recommend ideal treatment options for your condition.
What to Expect from the Thoracic Surgeon
Prior to your consult with a thoracic surgeon, it would be good to come prepared with information on your medical history, as well as a list of all the medications you are currently on, as well as to have a clear, concise, and accurate list of all your relevant medical histories, including any past surgeries or admissions.
During the consult, the surgeon will first take a medical history from you and review your medical records. They will ask you for a list of your current symptoms, and your medical history, as well as explore more about you and your background to help to understand your overall health situation better. Following this, they may perform a physical examination which includes listening to your heart and lungs, as well as taking your blood pressure. In addition, you may also be sent for further diagnostic testing such as a chest x-ray or an ECG.
After the consult, your thoracic surgeon may suggest more conservative forms of treatment for your condition. A detailed discussion about the operation, including its benefits, risks, alternatives, and complications, will be brought up, and you will be able to explore the whole array of treatment options that have been offered to you. You will also be briefed more on the surgical; procedure itself, and this can include finding out more about its indication, aims, recovery time, etc.
At the International Centre for Thoracic Surgery, Dr Aneez will discuss your condition and work with you in creating a personalised treatment plan that best suilts your needs.
What is the most common thoracic surgery?
Currently, the most common thoracic surgeries in Singapore are usually done to treat lung cancer, whereby surgery is done to remove the cancer, as well as to obtain tissue samples from the lungs for further testing. Cardiac surgeries such as heart valve replacements and coronary artery bypass grafts (CABGs) are also done for many patients who have heart conditions such as coronary artery disease.