Anterior Mediastinal Mass Biopsy and Resection: Anesthetic Techniques and Perioperative Concerns

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The perioperative management of the patient with an anterior mediastinal mass (AMM) is viewed as one of the more challenging anesthetic endeavors. Diligent preoperative planning is essential and often involves imaging studies using multiple modalities, pulmonary function assessment, and minimally invasive biopsy for tissue diagnosis prior to arriving in the operating room. Anesthetic induction, often without major risks in most patients, can be catastrophic in AMM patients, with possible complications that include complete airway obstruction and cardiovascular collapse. The authors present the case of a biopsy via anterior mediastinotomy under monitored anesthesia care (MAC)/sedation in a 39-yearold man, who presented with a large AMM causing significant right heart compression without tracheobronchial involvement. This procedure was followed by definitive mass resection approximately 6 weeks later. This review will explore the following: (1) the use of MAC/sedation for AMM biopsy, (2) methods of safely securing the airway in patients undergoing definitive mass resection via median sternotomy, (3) current opinions regarding the need for preoperative pulmonary function testing in these patients, (4) current opinions regarding the need for and timing of cardiopulmonary bypass in these cases, (5) the use of intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography during resection, and (6) the characteristics of mediastinal germ-cell tumors with sarcomatous conversion. Though multiple anesthetic methods have been proposed for the management of patients undergoing tissue biopsy and resection of an AMM, this case report presents 2 successful anesthetic options for 2 distinct surgical procedures. In every instance, the anesthetic management options must be tailored to the unique physiological needs of the patient presenting for surgery.

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