A brief overview of thoracic surgery in the United States. Journal of thoracic disease Byrd, C. T., Williams, K. M., Backhus, L. M. 2022; 14 (1): 218-226


The 331 million people of the United States are served by a complex and expensive healthcare system that accounts for nearly 18% of the country's gross domestic product. Over 90% of patients are insured by private or government-funded plans, but despite high coverage and unusually high healthcare spending, vast disparities exist within the United States population based on demographics in terms of diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes of disease. Thoracic surgeons in the United States are trained to treat patients with diseases of the chest in the operative and perioperative settings, and can accomplish this training through multiple highly competitive pathways. Thoracic surgeons perform an average of 135 operations each per year which address diseases of the lungs, trachea, esophagus, chest wall, mediastinum, and diaphragm. Video assisted thoracoscopic surgeries are the most commonly performed procedures, which are primarily completed to treat lung cancer. Lung cancer is the deadliest and second most prevalent malignancy in the United States, with over 200,000 new cases expected this year. In addition to encouragement of smoking cessation and more attention to air pollutants, increased access to lung cancer screening has significantly expedited diagnosis and reduced mortality from lung cancer in the last several years. Thoracic surgeons in the United States are tasked with treating common yet highly morbid diseases of the chest in a patient population that is diverse in terms of race, socioeconomic status, and healthcare insurance coverage. As the population ages and a shortage of thoracic surgeons looms, the importance of early diagnosis, skillful surgical management, and attention to the disparities that exist in our system cannot be overstated.

View details for DOI 10.21037/jtd-21-1504

View details for PubMedID 35242386

View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8828520