A thoracotomy is a surgery to open the chest wall. The surgery allows access to the lungs, aorta, heart, diaphragm, and spine. Depending on the disease location, a thoracotomy may be done in the center or on the right or left side of the chest.

A thoracotomy may be done to:

  • Confirm diagnosis of a lung or chest disease
  • Repair the heart or the vessels of the lung and heart
  • Treat windpipe disorders
  • Remove a portion of the lung or the entire lung
  • Reinflate lung tissue that has collapsed due to disease or trauma
  • Remove pus from the chest
  • Remove blood clots from the chest
  • Remove tumors or lymph nodes