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Thoracic Surgery at Tampa General Hospital

Surgical procedures that involve organs within the chest cavity are referred to as thoracic surgery. In recent years, tremendous advancements have been made in thoracic surgical tools and techniques. At Tampa General Hospital, our highly skilled surgeons are at the forefront of using this advanced technology to treat a wide range of thoracic conditions, including lung cancer, chest wall tumors, and digestive disorders involving the esophagus. Often performing minimally invasive video- and robotic-assisted procedures, our doctors specialize in surgeries that can reduce recovery times, lower the risk of infections, lessen postoperative pain, and minimize scarring. Our dedicated staff is committed to providing thoracic patients with the highest level of care possible.

To schedule and appointment, call TGH Thoracic Surgery at (813) 660-6950.

Common Diseases & Conditions Treated

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the second-most diagnosed cancer in the United States and the number one cause of cancer deaths throughout the world. The disease usually starts in the walls or air sacs of the lungs and, if left untreated, can spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, bones, and organs. The most common types of lung cancer are small-cell and non-small cell, with small-cell being the more aggressive of the two. Other types of lung cancer treated at Tampa General Hospital include adenocarcinoma, bronchoalveolar carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.     

Esophageal Cancer

The esophagus is a long, hollow tube that runs from the throat to the stomach. Esophageal cancer is most likely to first develop in the cells lining the esophagus and can occur anywhere along its passageway. Esophageal cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer, with the two predominant forms being adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Risk factors include obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and frequent bouts of acid reflux.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

The space between the collarbone and first rib is called the thoracic outlet. If blood vessels or nerves in this region become compressed, they can trigger a range of symptoms including shoulder and neck pain, numbness in the fingers, and a weakened grip. The group of disorders that cause these conditions are known collectively as thoracic outlet syndrome, with the two most common types being neurogenic and vascular. Neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when nerves in the brachial plexus, which exits the upper spine and runs from the neck, over the first rib, and into the armpit, are compressed. Vascular thoracic outlet syndrome is the result of veins or arteries under the collarbone becoming compressed.

Chest Wall Tumors

Not all chest wall tumors are a cause for alarm. Benign tumors often cause no symptoms and pose no significant health risk unless they grow large enough to inhibit the functioning of a nearby organ, such as a lung. Surgery may be necessary to remove malignant tumors if radiation or chemotherapy fail to destroy the cancerous cells. Tampa General Hospital’s thoracic surgeons treat many different types of chest wall tumors, including chondrosarcomas, chondromas, myelomas, Ewing sarcomas, and desmoid tumors.  

Additional Conditions Treated

TGH’s highly skilled surgical team has extensive experience in treating a wide range of other thoracic conditions, including:

  • Fibrous dysplasia
  • Leiomyomas
  • Advanced stage lung tumors
  • Superior sulcus (Pancoast) tumors
  • Pleural effusions
  • Tuberculosis
  • Pulmonary metastases
  • Tracheomalacia
  • Trachea-esophageal fistulas
  • Tracheal neoplasms
  • Cylindromas
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Germ cell tumors
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Tracheal stenosis
  • Thymomas
  • Chylothorax
  • Mesothelioma
  • Pulmonary infections
  • Empyema
  • Lung abscesses

Procedures

Robot-Assisted Thoracic Surgery

At Tampa General Hospital, our surgeons also perform robotic-assisted procedures using the da Vinci® Surgical System. Equipped with high-resolution 3D video-monitoring, this state-of-the-art surgical tool has multi-jointed arms that a surgeon can easily manipulate to reach the surgical site within the thoracic cavity. This increased flexibility provides an advantage over traditional minimally invasive techniques that use more rigid instruments. 

Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) involves the insertion of a small camera into the chest cavity, which allows a surgeon to see the surgical site without having to open the chest. The camera’s feed is displayed on a large external video monitor for viewing by the surgical team. This technology helps surgeons perform minimally invasive surgical procedures that can reduce the risk of complications, such as infections, and result in faster recovery times with less pain.

Lung Cancer Surgery

The type of surgical procedure recommended for a patient will depend on where the cancer is located, the size of the tumor, and whether or not it has metastasized, or spread to other parts of the patient’s body. Common lung cancer surgeries performed at TGH include:

  • Lobectomy – If an affected lung is healthy enough to function with two lobes instead of all three, a lobectomy may be recommended. This procedure involves the removal of the entire cancerous lobe of a lung.
  • Wedge resection – If lung function would be decreased too much by the complete removal of a lobe, a wedge resection may be an alternative. This procedure involves the removal of only a small piece of the lung and a margin of healthy tissue around the tumor.  
  • Pneumonectomy – If the cancer has spread throughout a lung, a patient may require a pneumonectomy, which involves the removal of the entire affected lung. This procedure is usually performed as a last resort.
  • Sleeve resection – At the top of each lung is a tube-like structure called the bronchus, which connects the lung to the windpipe. If the cancer is located in this region, our surgeons may remove the cancerous segment of the bronchus and then reattach the healthy ends.  

Whenever possible, our surgeons use minimally invasive techniques to perform these procedures.  

Esophageal Cancer Surgery

Esophagectomy involves the removal of some or most of the esophagus. If a tumor is located in the lower part of the esophagus, a small part of the stomach may also be removed. The stomach will then be pulled up and reattached to the remaining length of esophagus. If a tumor is located in the middle or upper part of the esophagus, most of the esophagus will likely need to be removed. In this case, the stomach will either be pulled up and reattached to the remaining length of the esophagus near the neck, or a segment of intestine will be used to bridge the gap. 

Additional Procedures:

In addition to the above-mentioned procedures, our surgeons also perform or provide:

  • Bronchoscopies
  • Chest wall reconstructions
  • Diagnosis and treatment of mediastinal disease

Our World-Class Surgeons

Tampa General Hospital’s thoracic surgeons are highly skilled medical professionals, all of whom are dedicated to providing our patients with world-class care that combines compassion and competence in equal measure. TGH’s thoracic surgeons are among the most experienced in their field having performed thousands of cardiothoracic surgeries, as well as hundreds of robotic-assisted procedures. Dr. Sommers, director of thoracic surgery at TGH, mastered the minimally invasive robotic lobectomy technique for lung cancer, which is now used as a teaching tool for other thoracic surgeons.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call TGH Thoracic Surgery at (813) 660-6950.