Six hundred and eighty diagnostic mediastinoscopies are presented. Of these, 552 were classical, 114 anterior mediastinal, 12 posterior mediastinal, and 2 from below the sternum. In addition, 20 therapeutic mediastinoscopies were performed for the insertion of a pacemaker electrode or evacuation of a mediastinal cyst.
Of 125 mediastinoscopies performed on patients with an initial diagnosis of sarcoidosis, in most the diagnosis was confirmed, the rate of false negative results being 2·4%.
Extremely encouraging were the results in patients with an initial diagnosis of Hodgkin's disease. Out of 60 patients, a different diagnosis was established in 30 and further follow-up proved this to be correct. In mediastinal tumours the results were discouraging, the rate of false results being as high as 43%.
Four hundred and ten patients were mediastinoscoped for lung cancer. In 52, mediastinoscopy was the first successful biopsy. Metastases to lymph nodes were found in 139 (33·9%). The percentage of exploratory thoracotomies following the introduction of mediastinoscopy fell from 22% to 14%.
Mediastinoscopy was also used to investigate the spread of oesophageal cancer and enabled us to exclude patients who were obviously inoperable.
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