Respiratory Disorders Expert Forum
Lung Biopsy
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Lung Biopsy

My brother's doctors found spots on his lungs, and the PET scan showed activity to the lymph nodes in the chest only, so now they are checking him into the hospital to do a biopsy of the chest lymph nodes.  How do they get into his chest to get the lymph node out? Will they cut him completely open, or will they go through his arm pit? or what? They said he will be in the hospital for several days.
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It depends where in the chest the enlarged lymph nodes are located.  Many times enlarged nodes are limited to the chest and do not involve the arm pit.  If they do, that is an easy place to biopsy and usually involves only a small incision.  Especially when the lymph nodes are central and in the upper chest, they can be reached by making a small incision and burrowing under the sternum commonly called the breast bone.  That is called mediastinoscopy.  If it is necessary to enter the chest lower down, that can often be done via video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS).  That too involves relatively small incisions.  You and your brother should discuss these approaches with his doctors and ask if any of them might be appropriate.
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