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Thoracic Surgery



Open operations for thoracic diseases are usually performed using an incision called a thoracotomy. This is an incision made in the side of the chest between the ribs. Minithoracotomy is another approach that can be used in some instances – a small incision is made to decrease pain and scarring, and improve recovery time.

How to Prepare?

It's important to follow the instructions your physician gives you to prepare for surgery. They generally include:

  • Not eating or drinking anything after midnight on the night before your procedure
  • Bringing a list of your medications with you to the hospital
  • Arriving at least one hour before surgery

You may have a pre-admission appointment before your procedure, during which you'll have routine blood tests and you'll speak with the anesthesiologist who will give you medicine during your procedure that will put you to sleep and ease pain.

If possible, do some mild physical activity, such as walking, and eat a balanced diet before scheduled surgery. In the week before, try to:

  • Limit alcohol consumption to one to two glasses a day.
  • Stop using tobacco.
  • Make a list of all your medications and bring it with you to the hospital. Include prescription and over-the-counter medications, herbs, supplements, aspirin, and corticosteroids.

What to Expect?

Before your procedure, you should receive a call from the hospital. You will be given information about the day of your surgery, including where to go and when to arrive. When you arrive, you will be taken to a pre-surgery area so that we can take your temperature, blood pressure, and pulse, and listen to your heart and lungs. We will place an intravenous (IV) line in a vein in your arm, so that medications and fluids may be given to you before, during and after the procedure.

What is the Recovery Process?

After surgery, you will be taken to the Post Anesthesia Unit and monitored for any changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. An IV line will remain in the vein in your arm to keep you hydrated and to provide pain medication, if necessary. If a breathing tube was inserted during surgery to control your breathing, it may stay in place for a brief time.

Before you go home, your physician or nurse will teach you how to care for your incision. Over the next few days you will regain your strength and be able to return to work and participate in physical activity.

Be sure to call your doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • High temperature
  • Allergic reaction, such as redness, swelling, or trouble breathing
  • Pain

Always take your medicine exactly as prescribed. Call us if you have any questions or changes.


Call: 617.638.5600
Fax: 617.638.7382

Boston Medical Center
Center for Thoracic Surgery
Moakley Building
830 Harrison Avenue, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02118

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Call: 617.638.5600
Fax: 617.638.7382

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88 East Newton Street
Robinson B-402
Boston, MA 02118
Call: 617.638.5600
Fax: 617.638.7382

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