Mediastinoscopy--its role and value today in the differential diagnosis of mediastinal pathology

Acta Oncol. 2001;40(1):79-82. doi: 10.1080/028418601750071109.


Mediastinoscopy has been an important method in the differential diagnosis of mediastinal pathology since it was presented by Carlens in 1959. Present investigation methods in radiology such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging as well as the new developments in ultrasonography have resulted in a decrease in the number of mediastinoscopies performed. In addition, better results of fine-needle aspiration and core-needle biopsy investigations together with new techniques in thoracoscopy have brought alternative possibilities in examining mediastinal masses. To evaluate the role of mediastinoscopy today, a retrospective study was conducted comprising 249 consecutive patients who had undergone mediastinoscopy in the years 1989 1997 at Turku University Central Hospital. Mediastinoscopy was technically possible in 229 of the 249 cases (92.0%) and a definitive diagnosis was obtained in 210 cases (84.3%). The mortality rate was zero and only 13 complications (5.2%) were reported. Six cases of paresis of the left recurrent nerve were reported, four of which were temporary. There were also five minor intraoperative and two postoperative bleedings, which were easily controlled. We still consider mediastinoscopy as a safe and efficient way of examining mediastinal pathology.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mediastinal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Mediastinal Diseases / pathology
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mediastinoscopy / adverse effects
  • Mediastinoscopy / trends*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies