Thoracic Surgery

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s thoracic surgery program is widely regarded as among the best in the United States – exemplified by our consistently high ranking in the area of lung transplant procedures. Over a recent 30-month period, our lung transplant program was rated the most effective in the nation for achieving the highest survival rate for one-year post-transplant patients.

Since the lung transplant program began in 1990, UT Southwestern has consistently been ranked among the top 10 in the country. These results reflect the quality of our pulmonary program and team approach to treat each patient.


UT Southwestern has the state-of-the-art medical resources needed to perform advanced, minimally invasive thoracic surgery. Video-assisted thoracoscopy is performed using one or more small incisions and a special camera called a thoracoscope to transmit video images to a monitor. Thoracoscopic surgery is used to diagnose and treat a variety of lung conditions and results in a faster recovery, which reduces the amount of time patients spend in the hospital.

Our thoracic surgeons also specialize in lung volume reduction surgery, which has shown to be a promising treatment for severe cases of emphysema. The procedure enables improved lung elasticity through reduced lung volume, allowing breathing muscles to work more easily and thereby improve lung function.

Robotic Surgery

Specially trained UT Southwestern surgeons perform some thoracic procedures using minimally invasive, robotic techniques. If your doctor recommends surgery to treat a thoracic condition affecting your lungs or esophagus, you may be a candidate for robotic surgery.

Because robotic surgery is performed through a few tiny incisions between the ribs, patients avoid both a large incision in the chest and the possibility of having their ribs spread.

Benefits of robotic surgery include:

  • Less pain
  • Faster recovery
  • Reduced chance of infection
  • Quicker return to normal activity
  • Less scarring

Robotic Thoracic Surgery Procedures

Robotic esophagectomy
Removal of the esophagus (or parts of it) to treat esophageal cancer. This approach is used most often for early and small cancers.
Robotic lobectomy for lung cancer
Lobectomy, or the surgical removal of a cancerous lobe in the lung, is the standard treatment of early-stage non-small cell lung cancer. UT Southwestern’s Kemp Kernstine, M.D., has performed more robotic lobectomies than anyone in the state.

Our Specialists

UT Southwestern’s thoracic surgeons are actively involved in advancing the latest and most effective procedures available to treat all types of lung disease, including lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, interstitial lung disease, occupational lung disease, and pulmonary hypertension.

Our thoracic surgeons are regarded by their peers as authorities in their areas of expertise and are dedicated to providing the attentive and compassionate care that is integral to successful treatment and recovery.