The mediastinum is the area in the middle of the chest between the lungs. A mediastinotomy is the creation of a small opening in the upper chest into the mediastinum. This opening allows the doctor to examine the area between and in front of the lungs.

The Lungs (Cut-away View)
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This procedure is done to examine the lungs and chest. Your doctor might take tissue samples (biopsy). These samples are examined under a microscope to check for diseases like:

  • Cancer of the lungs, bronchi, and chest tissue
  • Lymphoma—cancer in the lymphatic system, such as Hodgkin’s disease
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Sarcoidosis—a condition that causes inflammation in organs like the lungs, liver, lymph nodes, and spleen

Mediastinotomy is also done to find out if lung cancer has spread.