Jefferson University Hospitals

Frequently Asked Questions

What is minimally invasive thoracic surgery, and why is it sometimes preferable to traditional "open" procedures?

Minimally invasive thoracic surgery is surgery through small incisions (and sometimes without incisions) and without the use of rib spreading. In addition to being less painful for patients, this approach also allows for early recovery and is as effective as traditional procedures.

Does insurance usually cover minimally invasive thoracic procedures?

Yes, most insurance plans cover minimally invasive and robotic thoracic surgery.

Are there are any disadvantages to minimally invasive thoracic surgery?

No. Minimally invasive surgery will be performed by your surgeon only if it is as effective and safe as the traditional open procedure.

What surgical procedures do you offer to diagnose or treat lung cancer?

Jefferson's Thoracic Surgery Program performs several procedures designed to diagnose and treat lung cancer:

  • Diagnosis – flexible bronchoscopy, mediastinoscopy, endobronchial ultrasound, fine needle biopsy
  • Treatment – minimally invasive lobectomy or lung resection (such as VATS lobectomy), open traditional lung resection

What surgical procedures do you offer to diagnose or treat pleural diseases?

Procedures to diagnose and treat pleural disease involve inserting a small camera in the pleural space and removing fluid and/or biopsying the pleural surface.

What surgical procedures do you offer to diagnose and treat esophageal cancer?

Jefferson's Thoracic Surgery Program offers many procedures designed to diagnose and treat esophageal cancer:

  • Diagnosis: flexible esophagoscopy, endoscopic ultrasound
  • Treatment and palliation: insertion of esophageal stents, photodynamic therapy of esophageal cancer, minimally invasive esophagectomy (removal of esophageal cancer with small incisions), open esophagectomy, transhiatal esophagectomy 

What surgical procedures do you offer to diagnose and treat reflux?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease – also known as GERD – is a very common condition. Many patients complain of heartburn and regurgitation of food. It is diagnosed with this set of common symptoms. We may add a few tests to the diagnosis of reflux, such as monitoring of esophageal pH (which measures how much acid the esophagus is exposed to). Most patients with reflux will be treated with medication. Occasionally, when the medication stops working, a surgical treatment may be needed. At Jefferson, we offer surgical treatment of reflux without incisions. This is called endoluminal fundoplication, and is done by endoscopy without any cuts on the skin. This is a leading-edge procedure that may help many patients overcome reflux without traditional surgery. If you do not qualify for this, you may qualify for a minimally invasive repair of your reflux.

What surgical procedures do you offer to diagnose and treat achalasia?

Achalasia is diagnosed with esophageal manometry – a type of endoscopy that measures the pressure at the valve between the esophagus and the stomach. In patients dealing with achalasia, this valve is tight. Jefferson's Thoracic Surgery Program offers a minimally invasive procedure to relieve the tightness of the valve. Most patients undergoing this procedure return home in 24 hours.

What surgical procedures do you offer to treat diseases and disorders of the thymus?

Jefferson's Thoracic Surgery Program is at the forefront of robotic surgery for the treatment of thymic disorders, such as thymoma. The robot allows us to replace an invasive median sternotomy (cutting of the breast bone) in most patients. With three half-inch incisions, we can take care of most thymic conditions, including thymoma.

What surgical procedures do you offer to treat myasthenia gravis?

A significant number of patients with myasthenia gravis benefit from the removal of the thymic gland. The traditional way of doing this surgery is through a median sternotomy (cutting of the breast bone). Through Jefferson's Thoracic Surgery Program, we perform the same surgery using three half-inch incisions and the robot – allowing for significantly less pain and faster recovery.

When is surgery a good option for someone who has excessive sweating?

Patients experiencing sweaty hands (palmar hyperhidrosis), sweaty armpits (axillary hyperhidrosis), sweaty face (facial hyperhidrosis) and facial blushing (facial rubor) may greatly benefit from surgical intervention.

What procedure(s) do you perform to address hyperhidrosis?

We perform endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy. These procedures typically take about 25 minutes.

Is hyperhidrosis performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis?

We perform this as an outpatient procedure. Most patients leave the Hospital less than 6 hours after surgery.