Preoperative staging of the mediastinum is an essential and multidisciplinary task

Respirology. 2020 Nov:25 Suppl 2:37-48. doi: 10.1111/resp.13901. Epub 2020 Jul 12.


Mediastinal staging is a crucial step in the management of patients with NSCLC. With the recent development of novel techniques, mediastinal staging has evolved from an activity of interest mainly for thoracic surgeons to a joint effort carried out by many specialists. In this regard, the debate of cases in MDT sessions is crucial for optimal management of patients. Current evidence-based clinical guidelines for preoperative NSCLC staging recommend that mediastinal staging should be performed with increasing invasiveness. Image-based techniques are the first approach, although they have limited accuracy and findings must be confirmed by pathology in almost all cases. In this setting, the advent of radiomics is promising. Invasive staging depends on procedural factors rather than diagnostic performance. The choice between endoscopy-based or surgical procedures should depend on the local expertise of each centre. As the extension of mediastinal disease in terms of number of involved lymph nodes and nodal stations affects prognosis and the choice of treatment, systematic samplings are preferred over random targeted samplings. Following this approach, a diagnosis of single mediastinal nodal involvement can be unreliable if all reachable mediastinal nodal stations have not been assessed. The performance of confirmatory mediastinoscopy after a negative endoscopy-based procedure is controversial but currently recommended. Current indications of invasive staging in patients with radiologically normal mediastinum have to be re-evaluated, especially for central tumour location.

Keywords: mediastinum; multidisciplinary team; non-small cell lung cancer; staging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / surgery
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Mediastinoscopy
  • Mediastinum
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Patient Care Team
  • Preoperative Period
  • Prognosis