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The chest wall is a protective structure covering vital organs in the chest and upper abdomen, including the heart, lungs and liver. The ribs, spinal column and sternum make up this structure, which is surrounded by blood vessels and muscles. Chest wall resection and reconstruction is a type of thoracic surgery that is used to repair the chest wall.

Conditions Treated

Chest wall resection and reconstruction may be the recommended treatment for:

  • Tumors located in or near the chest wall
  • Radiation necrosis
  • Infections of the chest wall
  • Trauma to the chest wall

Procedure Details

During the resection, an incision is made in the chest to access the chest wall. From there, the surgeon will remove the affected parts of the chest wall. Most patients undergo this procedure to remove a tumor that’s encroaching on this protective structure. Depending on the size of the tumor, cartilage, soft tissue and parts of the sternum and/or ribs may need to be removed as well.
After the chest wall resection, the surgeon will complete the reconstruction procedure to rebuild the skeletal structure of the chest. Using man-made prosthetic materials, such as artificial bone or titanium rib plating, the surgeon will restore function to the chest wall by repairing any damage that was caused to it during the resection.

What to Expect

Chest wall resection and reconstruction can be completed using traditional, open surgery or with minimally invasive methods. Your surgeon will decide which option is best for your needs, based on your condition, the size of the tumor being removed (if applicable) and other factors.
Patients who undergo open chest wall surgery will need to stay in the hospital for a few days and may require medication to manage their postoperative pain. It’s important to follow your surgeon’s recovery instructions, including when to resume normal activities.

All surgeries carry some amount of risk. Those associated with chest wall surgery include:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Pneumonia
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Air leaking from the lungs

Effectiveness

The effectiveness of chest wall surgery is contingent on the reason for this procedure. For example, the outlook for a patient who undergoes this procedure to repair recent trauma to the chest wall may have a much different outlook than a cancer patient who needed the surgery to remove a tumor.

Tampa General Hospital is a leading provider of thoracic surgery, including chest wall resection and reconstruction. Our highly skilled surgeons utilize the most advanced techniques—including minimally invasive surgery, robotic-assisted surgery and video-assisted surgery—to deliver world-class outcomes to our patients.