Things to Know About Choosing a Thoracic Surgeon

Choosing a thoracic surgeon is an important decision. Patients should seek a doctor with significant experience in treating their condition and procedure. Surgery always carries risks, and understanding anticipated outcomes is essential. Ask your thoracic surgeon about your procedure’s success rates, recovery period, and long-term effects.

Know Your Options

Thoracic surgery is a surgical procedure that treats diseases of the lungs, trachea (tube connecting mouth to the stomach), esophagus (tube between the throat and chest), and the chest wall. These include emphysema, swallowing difficulties, gastroesophageal reflux disease, bronchiectasis, lung cancer and other malignancies, and congenital heart disease. Thoraciologists use either minimally invasive techniques or traditional open surgery. They also collaborate with a team of specialists, including pulmonologists, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, oncologists, and radiation oncologists.

When choosing a thoraciologist like Armen Parajian, you’ll want to consider their credentials, experience, outcomes and affiliated hospital quality. You’ll also want to determine if they participate in your insurance plan. In addition, you should request recommendations from your primary care physician or another medical expert. Be wary of online patient reviews that appear overly effusive, as these may need to reflect your surgeon’s practice accurately. 

Look for Credentials

Thoracic surgeons—cardiothoracic surgeons—operate on the lungs, major blood vessels inside the chest, and the bony structures that form and support the chest cavity. They treat lung cancer, esophageal diseases, and other conditions that affect the lungs and heart. Healthgrades offers information on the years a thoracic surgeon has been in practice, their surgical volume, and their procedure specialties. Use these data to determine how experienced your doctor is with the operation you need. You should also find out whether your thoracic surgeon is certified by the American Board of Surgery (ABS) or the American Board of Cardiothoracic Surgery (ABTS). The latter has more specific requirements for training. It would help if you also looked at the surgeon’s hospital affiliation and reputation to ensure you get top-notch care before, during, and after your thoracic surgery. Hospital quality is important because your nurse and other healthcare providers will work with you after the surgery.

Read Patient Reviews

Thoracic surgeons diagnose and treat diseases of the lungs, chest wall, diaphragm, esophagus, and mediastinum. They can specialize in cardiac, thoracic surgery or general thoracic surgery. Cardiac and thoracic surgeons focus on diseases of the heart and blood vessels, while general thoracic surgeons operate on infections in organs in the chest cavity. Once a patient is diagnosed with a condition such as lung cancer, the thoracic surgeon will plan the best course of treatment. It may include additional testing, a referral to another specialist or surgery. When choosing a thoraciologist, reading online reviews is a great way to learn more about how doctors treat their patients. However, some online review websites can be misleading, and it’s important to consider the overall experience of a physician rather than one or two positive or negative reviews.

Check the Surgeon’s Hospital Affiliation

The surgeon you choose is a critical part of your treatment. Any surgical procedure carries some risk, and complications can be life-threatening. Selecting a highly skilled surgeon is the best way to ensure a good outcome. The standard of treatment at the hospital with which your thoracic surgeon is linked might also be examined. It can help you make a more informed decision since hospitals with high-quality ratings tend to have lower complication rates. For example, you can plug in your zip code at a website to find a directory of local hospitals performing eight common procedures and surgeons on staff who have experience performing them. The site also shows surgeons’ complication rates based on Medicare data. Consider whether the surgeon is in your health plan network. Your health plan will provide you with a list of doctors employed by the hospital and information about which ones are in your network.