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Making a Diagnosis

The evaluation of a mediastinal mass must be performed by a physician or team of physicians familiar with the variety of tumors that can present in this location.

A computerized tomography (CT) scan of the chest is currently the most useful primary investigative tool. A thorough medical history and physical examination of the patient are also important, as some tumors of the mediastinum are related to other diseases.

Depending upon the CT scan appearance and location of the lesion, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan , Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan , or other special tests may be appropriate. Blood tests may demonstrate serum markers which will render a specific diagnosis.

If necessary, your surgeon may ask a pulmonologist (lung doctor) to perform pulmonary function testing , which measures both the capacity of the lung and the strength used to achieve this capacity. Tests that provide insight into lung function include nuclear medicine scans, which measure the contribution of different parts of the lung, as well as exercise testing.

A cardiologist may also be consulted to perform an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram , or ultrasound of the heart, and possibly nuclear medicine scans to ensure the heart is healthy enough to withstand the stress of treatment.