Thoracic Surgery


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Thoracic (Lung) Surgery

Deborah’s surgical team is expert in thoracic — or chest — surgery. This includes the lungs, esophagus, trachea, and chest wall. A variety of surgical techniques, including both open and minimally-invasive, are performed by Deborah’s surgical team. Whenever possible, advanced laparoscopic and video-assisted thoracoscopic surgical techniques are used.

Depending on a patient’s diagnosis and surgical plan, Deborah has an integrated team of specialists to ensure a complete continuity of care. Pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, oncologists, imaging specialists, pathologists, anesthesiologists, and specially-trained operating room nurses may all play a vital role in your care.

Deborah prides itself in diagnosing and treating a full complement of thoracic conditions. Its surgical team is expert in lung diseases, including interstitial lung disease, which encompasses a wide group of illnesses that cause scarring in the lungs. This scarring causes stiffness which makes it hard to breathe. Interstitial lung disease can be caused by bacteria, exposure to hazardous materials or autoimmune diseases among others.

Deborah’s thoracic team also has extensive experience in pulmonary masses and nodules. These “spots on the lungs,” usually benign, are called nodules if smaller than 3 cm in diameter. Larger than that they are called masses and often indicate cancer. Whether treating a benign tumor, a bacterial or fungal infection, inflammation, or a malignant tumor, the expert interdisciplinary team at Deborah — combined with advanced diagnostics — ensure rapid deployment of state-of-the-art technology, a customized treatment plan and highly skilled specialists for excellent outcomes.


Many Deborah lung surgery patients often come to our surgical department through our pulmonary program, after deciding they need to see a specialist because of breathing problems, coughing, or respiratory irritation. Deborah’s expert pulmonary physicians work with an integrated team of specialists, backed by an array of sophisticated imaging and diagnostic capabilities, including CT scans, flexible bronchoscopy, and endobronchial ultrasound guided biopsy (EBUS) to pinpoint an accurate diagnosis.

In the event a tumor is discovered, patients are transferred into Deborah’s Multi-Disciplinary Oncology Clinic (MDOC) for coordinated lung nodule and tumor evaluation, diagnosis, and planning. The MDOC team brings with it many years of experience in crafting personalized treatment options, and long-range planning for on-going management of lung cancer. If surgery is necessary, patients are smoothly integrated into the thoracic surgery program, with additional planning for chemotherapy and radiation as needed.

For non-cancerous surgeries, the pulmonary team will once again work closely with the thoracic surgery team to ensure a smooth continuity of care.

What We Treat


A chronic condition causing inflammation and infection that thickens the walls of the bronchi, causing breathing flare-ups called exacerbations.

Interstitial lung disease

A number of disorders causing scarring — or fibrosis — of the lungs, resulting in stiffness which makes it difficult to breath.

Lung cancer

Cancer in the lungs, most often a result of smoking.

Lung cancer screening for smokers

Pulmonary masses and nodules

Nodules or “spots on the lung” are lesions smaller than 3 centimeters. Larger than that size, they are called a mass, and are more likely to be cancer.


A type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that damages the air sacs in the lungs, reducing the oxygen your body receives.

Collapsed lung

This occurs when air enters the space between the lung and the chest wall (called the pleural space). A total collapse is called a pneumothorax, a partial collapse called atelectasis.

Esophageal stricture

A narrowing or tightening of the esophagus, sometimes caused by damage to the lining of the esophagus leading to inflammation and scarring, which can cause the esophageal narrowing.

Esophageal cancer

This can be caused by smoking, heavy alcohol use, and Barrett’s esophagus.

Tracheal and bronchial tumors

These can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing from blockages in the airways.

Mediastinal tumors and masses

This refers to the area that separates the lungs in the middle of the chest and can include cancerous and noncancerous tumors, enlarged lymph nodes, and cysts.

Chest wall diseases

These diseases constrict the chest wall and lead to respiratory insufficiency.


A tumor of the tissue that surrounds the lungs.

Pleural masses

Many pleural masses are caused by exposure to asbestos.

Pulmonary fibrosis

When lung tissue becomes damaged or scarred, causing the lungs difficulty in working properly.

Minimally-Invasive Surgery

Deborah surgeons are highly skilled in the latest surgical techniques. Thoracic surgery is usually performed either as an open surgery — or thoracotomy — during which the surgeon makes an incision in your chest wall between your ribs to surgical remove all or part of the lung, or minimally-invasive Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery, or VATS, which is performed with a videoscope, smaller incisions and special instruments.

One of the benefits of surgery at Deborah is its excellent surgical team and facilities. Occasionally a scheduled minimally-invasive procedure needs to convert to an open procedure. When that occurs, full surgical suite services including cardio-pulmonary bypass, state-of-the-art operating rooms, and a fully-trained specialty surgical team is quickly available, to ensure excellent surgical outcomes.

Types of Surgery Performed

Pulmonary — or lung — resection is a surgical procedure to remove part or the entire lung. Types of resection include:

  • Wedge resection – surgery to remove a triangle-shaped slice of tissue
  • Segmentectomy – surgery to remove a section of a lobe of lung
  • Lobectomy – surgery to remove one lobe of the lung
  • Bilobectomy – surgery to remove 2 lobes of the right lung, either the upper and middle lobes, or the middle and lower lobes
  • Pneumonectomy – surgery to remove a whole lungv
  • Sleeve resection – surgery to remove a tumor in a lobe of the lung and part of the main airway. The ends of the airway are rejoined and any lobes of the lung are reattached to the airway (bronchus)

Mediastinal Surgery

This refers to several types of surgery in the middle of your chest, in the area where the lungs, heart, aorta, esophagus, thymus, and trachea meet.

Lung volume reduction surgery

This is surgery to address damage from severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and removes the area of the lung most damaged in order to improve breathing.

Chest wall surgery

Tumors of the chest wall need to be surgically removed, and could involve soft tissue, cartilage, the sternum or the ribs.

Pleural surgery

This is a lung-sparing surgery that involves removing the pleural lung lining, with no surgery on the affected lung.

Tracheal surgery

Is performed as need if there is narrowing (stenosis) of the trachea and it has to surgically opened.

Esophageal dilation

A procedure that dilates, or stretches, a narrowed esophagus.

Esophageal surgery

May be necessary for cancer treatment. An esophagectomy is when a portion of the esophagus is removed and the stomach is pulled up and reattached to the remaining esophagus.

Why Deborah?

Deborah Heart and Lung Center is the region’s preeminent heart, lung and vascular hospital, offering leading-edge surgical techniques and non-surgical alternatives for treating a multitude of pulmonary conditions. The Hospital is consistently recognized as a leader in patient care and innovative healing, and has won numerous awards.

Deborah Heart and Lung Center also remains an excellent resource for patients seeking a second opinion. Its specialists work closely with community pulmonologists, oncologists, and primary care physicians in order to deliver coordinated care. Second opinions are frequently sought to both confirm a current diagnosis and treatment plan, as well as learning about other treatment options.