Patient Education - Lung Cancer Program at UCLA
yourself about lung cancer:
Lung surgery is any surgical procedure that allows the surgeon to directly affect the
lungs. Examples include removal of a section of lung because of a tumor or an infection,
biopsy of the lung to obtain a diagnosis, and lung transplantation.
Thoracotomy; Lung tissue removal; Pneumonectomy; Lobectomy; Lung biopsy; Thoracoscopy
While the patient is under general anesthesia, an incision is made between the ribs to
expose the lung. The chest cavity will be examined and diseased lung tissue will be removed.
This examination may be performed directly (thoracotomy) or with the aid of a camera (thoracoscopy).
A chest tube is inserted to drain air, fluid, and blood out of the chest cavity, and then
the ribs and skin are closed.
Why the Procedure is Performed
Lung surgery may be recommended for the following reasons:
- Cancer (such as lung cancer)
- Tumors (such as solitary pulmonary nodule)
- Small areas of long-term infection (such as highly localized pulmonary tuberculosis
- Pockets of infection (lung abscess)
- Permanently enlarged (dilated) airways (bronchiectasis)
- Permanently dilated section of lung (lobar emphysema)
- Permanently collapsed lung tissue (atelectasis)
- Injuries with collapsed lung tissue (atelectasis, pneumothorax, or hemothorax)
Risks for any anesthesia include the following:
- Reactions to medications
- Problems breathing
Risks for any surgery include the following:
Additional risks of lung surgery include the following:
The outcome depends on the type and severity of the problem, but many patients recover
Hospital stay is usually 7 to 10 days. Deep breathing is important to help prevent pneumonia
and infection and to re-expand the lung. The chest tube remains in place until the lung has
Pain is managed with medication. The patient usually recovers fully by 1 to 3 months after
Review Date: 5/30/2006
Reviewed By: J.A. Lee, M.D., Division of Surgery, UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided
by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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