|Several approaches are available to perform a thoracotomy, and all are done under a general anesthesia.|
In anterior thoracotomy, a vertical incision is made from the base of the neck to the lower end of the breastbone (sternum). The sternum is divided with a saw (sternotomy) and gently pried apart. With the heart exposed, the necessary surgery can be performed.
If access is needed to the esophagus, heart, thymus gland, trachea, bronchi, and large blood vessels, a full-wide incision thoracotomy is used.
In a lateral thoracotomy, an incision is made between the ribs to allow access to the lungs. The incision is made from back to front along the rib line. The ribs are spread apart, and occasionally part of a rib is removed. The lung may be biopsied through the incision.
Following the procedure, a temporary drainage tube is inserted into the pleural cavity (the space between the membranes lining the chest wall and the membranes covering the lungs). This allows fluid to drain and permits air in the pleural space to be removed, thereby allowing the lung to fully expand. If the procedure involved a sternotomy, the sternum is closed with strong stitches or wire. The muscles and overlying skin are closed with stitches.
Source: Medical Disability Advisor