Thoracic surgery is surgery of the chest (thorax), including treatments for the lungs, chest wall, diaphragm, and the esophagus. Physicians at UI Hospitals and Clinics offer both standard and minimally invasive procedures (both robotic and non-robotic) for many types of thoracic surgeries. In fact, our surgeons have a great deal of expertise with minimally invasive approaches that offer patients faster recovery and less pain than traditional surgery.
Through our team approach, University of Iowa Heart and Vascular Center offers many unique services for thoracic surgery including:
Minimally Invasive Approaches for Lung (Pulmonary) Diseases
Our physicians offer less invasive approaches to help patients with lung disease as diverse as lung cancer, pulmonary infections and emphysema. Some of the minimally invasive approaches, including thoracoscopy which is used to examine lungs or to obtain tissue for testing, may allow patients to leave the hospital in as little as six hours and to return to normal activity in a day or two.
Used for people with both esophageal and lung cancer, photodynamic therapy, also called PDT, combines light-sensitive drugs and light to destroy cancer cells. First, a drug is given that is absorbed by fast-growing disease cells. A couple of days later, the physician inserts an endoscope, shining a laser light that destroys the damaged cells.
Surgery for Acid Reflux Disease and Esophageal Disease
There are several options for anti-reflux surgery. In most cases, a less invasive approach is an option for patients with esophageal disease such as severe acid reflux, also called GERD, Barrett’s Esophagus, and hiatal (abdominal) hernias. Patients are often discharged the same day. UI thoracic surgeons have the most experience in the state dealing with esophageal issues and are trained in a number of approaches, including a procedure to treat GERD called Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication. Our surgical team even offers a surgery that doesn’t have an incision, called Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF), or Endoluminal Fundoplication. Watch a video of our surgical team describing this procedure. Several tests are indicated to help determine if surgery is required for this condition:
- Endoscopy with biopsies - to evaluate the inside tissue lining of the esophagus
- Esophageal Manometry - to assess for motility or muscle disorders in the esophagus
- 24 hour PH probe (off anti-reflux medications for 3 days before the test) - to evaluate the extent of period of time reflux occurs
- Esophagram - to outline the anatomy of the esophagus
We are the only hospital in the state offering lung transplants. Lung transplants may be an option for people with cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, lung damage from smoke inhalation or pulmonary fibrosis. The UI Lung Transplant Program has outstanding statistics with wait times shorter than the national average and survival rates among the best.
Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
ECMO is an approach for people who have severe lung issues. ECMO can provide patients with support for their lungs, allowing the organs to rest so that patients can recover. It is also used to help patients while they wait for transplants or another type of surgery.
Treatments for Hyperhidrosis
Palm hyperhidrosis, or sweaty palm disease, affects millions of Americans, many who don’t seek treatment. UI physicians offer endoscopic thoracoscopy sympathectomy (ETS) as an outpatient procedure that is 98 percent effective at treating this debilitating disease.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
We have special expertise in treating a rare condition called thoracic outlet syndrome, which involves a numbness and tingling of the fingers due to pinched blood vessels and nerves in the shoulder and collarbone area.