What is chest wall surgery?
Chest wall surgery refers to a range of specialist operations that involve parts of the chest wall – such as the ribs, diaphragm, breastbone, muscles or parts of the bones of the spine. In simple terms the diseased part of the chest wall is removed and the gap left behind is given support. Support may be with metal plates, plastic meshes or muscles next to the gap. This may be done in combination with removing part of the lung – such as lobectomy. Many of the operations are unique and tailored to the patient. These are examples of conditions that lead to chest wall operations:
- A lung cancer has spread into the ribs next to the tumour, the cancer in the lung and part of the affected ribs needs to be removed. If a small part of a bone in the spine is affected this can be removed too. Large parts of the spine are not removed. Chemotherapy may have been given before surgery to shrink the tumour and make surgery possible.
- An infection or a tumour has damaged the breast bone, the unhealthy part of the breast bone needs to be removed.
- A lump in the ribs, cartilage or muscle of the chest needs to be removed.