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Thoracic surgery is the branch of medicine that focuses on the surgical treatment of diseases affecting organs inside the thorax (chest), including the lungs, trachea, and esophagus. Physicians who specialize in this field are called thoracic surgeons. As well as performing surgery, they also diagnose and treat diseases of the chest organs. However, thoracic surgeons generally do not perform surgery for conditions affecting the heart and the major vessels in the chest as these operations are performed by cardiac surgeons. Some of the most common diseases that thoracic surgeons can diagnose and treat are as follows:
Thoracic surgeons are trained and qualified to perform a wide range of surgical procedures, including:
These surgical procedures can be performed with either an open surgical procedure (called thoracotomy) or minimally invasive techniques. Thoracotomy may be performed when it is necessary to see large portions of the inner chest cavity or the lung.
Since most thoracic surgeries are major, it is generally advisable that you stay in Spain for about six weeks before you travel home to avoid complications. In certain cases, however, you may be allowed to go home within 14 days. During your stay, you may need to attend follow-up checkups where your surgeon monitors your healing and will remove your surgical stitches, if necessary.
The total recovery time after thoracic surgery can take between six to twelve weeks, depending on the type of surgery you have. However, you should be able to return to some of your normal routines, such as housework or work (if your job is not physically demanding), within two to six weeks following your surgery. Your medical team will be able to advise you on the likely length of recovery for your specific surgery.
Your surgical team will give you instructions on how to care for yourself at home. The instructions may include exercises to help your breathing and posture, ways to monitor infections, and how to care for your wounds. You may need to change your lifestyle after surgery, such as quit smoking (if you smoke), eat a well-balanced diet, and exercise regularly. You may need to attend regular checkups, but you can do the checkups at home with your local doctor.
Thoracic surgery is always evolving and advancing. With continuous research, the thoracic surgeon now has a better and broader understanding of the organs inside the thorax. They can also use new techniques and technology to perform the surgery. Today, much of thoracic surgery is done minimally invasively by using small incisions, a thin camera, and high definition monitors (video-assisted thoracic surgery) or with using a machine (robot-assisted thoracic surgery). These technological advances have increased the availability, safety, and success rate of thoracic surgery.
If your doctor decided that you need surgery to treat your condition, there is no other alternative than seeing a thoracic surgeon. However, if you do not want to undergo surgery, it is best that you consult your doctor about an alternative.
Whilst the information presented here has been accurately sourced and verified by a medical professional for its accuracy, it is still advised to consult with your doctor before pursuing a medical treatment at one of the listed medical providers. This content was last updated on 10/02/2023.