Mediastinoscopy is a procedure which allows the surgeon to look at and take a piece of the lymph nodes or tissue that will help decide if you are a candidate for operation, or in some cases will need preoperative chemotherapy and/or radiation first.
This procedure involves a 1-2 inch incision above the breastbone and the use of a special video scope to see the lymph nodes in the chest. This procedure usually takes about an hour and is done as an outpatient. The major risks with the procedure include but are not limited to bleeding, nerve injury, or damage to near by structures, which could require an open procedure.
Mediastinoscopy is a relatively safe procedure with low complications, which provides a large amount of information to the surgeon about whether or not they can remove all of the cancer, or even if cancer is present in the lymph nodes.