Welcome to the Mayo Clinic Chest Surgery Page. Chest surgery at Mayo Clinic (also known as thoracic surgery) involves the organs of the chest, but extends to the esophagus (tube between mouth and stomach), the trachea (airway) and the chest wall (rib cage and breastbone).

Follow this page to stay up-to-date on clinical trial research, patient stories and useful information for all of your thoracic needs. Our goal is to connect you to others to become informed decision makers. Post a comment and share your thoughts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our FAQ page is made up of real questions patients have asked members of our care team. New material will be periodically added so check back often.

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I was told I have costochondritis, what does this mean?

  • Costochondritis is inflammation of the cartilage that connects your ribs to your breastbone. This inflammation can cause pain which is why the condition is sometimes called chest wall pain. Learn more about costochondritis 


I'm coming to Mayo Clinic for the first time, where can I find information on how to get around?

  • The Patient Visitor Guide is a great place to start when planning your visit to Mayo Clinic. Although Mayo Connect also has a discussion forum where patients can ask questions and get answers from other Mayo Clinic patients.


What is a needle biopsy?

  • A needle biopsy is a minor procedure (which may be part of a larger procedure) that is used to collect a sample of cells from your body. The procedure is named such due to the use of a needle through a technique known as fine-needle aspiration to collect the cells. Learn more about needle biopsies.


What is the different between a thoracoscopy and a laparoscopy? 

  • The primary difference between thoracoscopy and laparoscopy is the area of the body being entered. Thoracoscopy  involves the chest or thoracic cavity while laparoscopy involves the abdomen.


My doctor said they were going to do VATS surgery. What does VATS mean?

  • VATS stands for Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). It is considered to be a minimally invasive surgical technique used to diagnose and treat problems in your chest. During your VATS procedure, a tiny camera is inserted into your chest through a small incision in your chest wall. The camera transmits images of the inside of your chest onto a video monitor, guiding the surgeon in performing the procedure. An additional small incision is made to allow for surgical instruments to enter through the chest wall and perform the surgical portion of the procedure. Learn more about VATS surgery and the procedures this surgical technique is used.


I am not currently a patient of Mayo Clinic but have been diagnosed with lung cancer. How do I make an appointment at Mayo Clinic to be evaluated for treatment options?


I've been told that pectus excavatum is only cosmetic, is that true?

  • While pectus excavatum is often visibly noticeable and often labeled as a cosmetic surgery, Drs. at Mayo Clinic have shown that repair of the chest wall defect has an impact on both heart and lung function making it more than just a cosmetic defect. Learn more about pectus excavatum. Check out our Pectus Toolkit right here on Mayo Clinic Connect.



Will I get a private room if I have to stay overnight?

  • Depending on the location of your procedure, semi-private, private and suite rooms may be available. This is a question you will want to ask at the time of your admission for your surgical procedure. While most insurance plans cover the full costs of semi-private rooms; patients may be responsible for the cost per day difference for a private or suite room.
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