The field of surgical treatment of illnesses of organs in the chest. These illnesses include: malign and benign tumors of the lungs, aesophagus, trachea and area between the lungs.
The word THORAX means chest and THORACIC surgery is the field of surgery focused on treatment of illnesses in organs of the chest. The chest holds the heart, both lungs with the trachea and bronchial trees, esophagus, thymus gland and lymph nodes. Thoracic surgeons perform surgical procedures for the treatment of malign and benign tumors in the lungs, malign and benign tumors of the esophagus, malign and benign tumors of the trachea and malign and benign tumors in the area between the lungs (tumors of the thymus, nerves and lymph nodes). Thoracic surgery also includes organs in the neck, particularly the thyroid, parathyroid glands, trachea and pharynx, as well as both diaphragms and the junction between the esophagus and stomach. Irregularities in the opening between the diaphragms where the esophagus passes through (esophageal hiatus) are the most common cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Another problem in the same area is achalasia cardia, whereby the junction between the esophagus and stomach does not open correctly during eating and creates a barrier for food entering the stomach.
Thoracic surgery can be open, when the surgeon enters the thorax by performing a thoracotomy (long incision through the space between the ribs) or sternotomy (cutting through the breast bone). Thoracic surgery can also be performed using a minimally invasive procedure - video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), whereby the surgeon enters the thorax through one or more smaller incisions and performs the procedure with the aid of a video camera and special instruments. The surgeon always discusses the selected surgical with the patient.