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Lung Resection: Information on procedure, risks, complications, preparations

  • Posted on- Aug 01, 2016
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Lung Resection is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of tissue from within the lungs. This procedure is called a Lobectomy, if only a portion of the lung is removed. This procedure is called a Total Pneumonectomy, if the entire lung is removed. If a portion of the lobe is removed, then it is called a Wedge Resection of Lung.

What are the reasons behind a lung resection surgical procedure?

The Lung Resection procedure is performed for the following reasons:

How a lung resection surgical procedure is performed?

Pneumonectomy procedure

  • The surgeon makes an incision under the shoulder blade, on the diseased side and extends it along the side of the chest onto the front, following the curvature of the ribs to enter into the chest cavity
  • A portion of the fifth rib may be removed to make Lung Resections easier
  • After collapsing the lung, the surgeon clamps the blood vessels feeding it. The surgeon also clamps and cuts the primary bronchus (a large tube arising from the windpipe that carries air in and out of lungs)
  • The lung is then removed

Lobectomy procedure

  • The surgeon makes an incision on front of the chest at the level of the lobe (a portion of lung) that is being removed
  • The overlying ribs are spread apart
  • The blood supply and air tubes supplying the lobe are tied and cut
  • The lobe is then removed

After surgery, chest tubes are placed to remove any air or fluid that may collect post-operatively. The skin incision is closed.

A thoracic surgeon performs a lung resection procedure. It may take anywhere between 1-3 hours for the procedure to complete.

Preparations needed before a lung resection surgical procedure

  • The physician may evaluate the individual’s medical history to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the overall health status of the patient including information related to the medications that are being currently taken
  • Some medications increase a person’s chances of bleeding and it may be recommended to discontinue them for a period of time, before the procedure is performed
  • Blood tests may be performed to determine if there is a bleeding tendency or any other medical conditions that prevents the person from undergoing the procedure
  • Normally local anaesthesia is not used however, do inform the physician if you are allergic to any local anaesthetics, lidocaine, etc
  • Avoid application of any cosmetics, deodorant, or topical medicines on the area, prior to the procedure
  • It is advisable to quit smoking and the use of any nicotine based products, for a while, before the surgery
  • Consumption of alcoholic drinks must also be avoided for a period of time, as instructed
  • The patient must avoid eating or drinking at least 8 hours prior to the surgical procedure, depending on when the procedure is arranged
  • For persons suffering from diabetes, it is important that the blood sugar stays within the normal range if not their diabetologist may have to control blood sugar by recommending insulin or a combination of oral medicines

Diagnostic lab tests needed before a lung resection surgical procedure

Prior to a lung resection procedure, the patient has to undergo certain tests, such as:

Risks and complications during lung resection surgical procedure

The possible risks or complications that may arise during the lung resection surgery are:
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection surrounding the surgical would
  • Air leakage collapsing the lung (tension pneumothorax)
  • Anaesthetic complications

Risks and complications after lung resection surgical procedure

The possible risks and complications that may arise after lung resection procedure are:
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection in the surgical wound
  • Pus collection in the chest wall space
  • Pneumonia
  • Decreased respiratory function
  • Bronchopleural fistula (BPF) - a passage forms between the air tubes and the pleural space, which is a gap between the chest wall and lung
  • Leakage of air into the lung cavity/thorax from the lung (prolonged air leakage)

Post-operative care needed after a lung resection surgical procedure

At home, the following post-operative care is recommended after a lung resection procedure:
  • Slowly resume daily activities as soon as possible, which aids in faster recovery
  • Use a heat pad or warm compress, in order to relieve pain due to the incision
  • Resume showering and keep the wound clean and dry. Avoid taking baths until the surgical wound is completely healed. Gently wash the surgical wound with unscented soap and re-bandage it again
  • Take deep breaths and cough regularly, to help prevent secretion buildup within the lungs
  • Elevate legs while resting, to prevent the formation of blood clots and reduce the possibility of swelling
  • Complete the course of prescribed medication, or follow your physician’s advice
  • Take antibiotic medication to help combat or prevent infection (per physician’s advice)
  • Avoid taking non-prescription medications, such as aspirin. However, individuals may take acetaminophen to relieve pain
  • Get vaccinated to help prevent pneumonia
  • Avoid all activities that are physically strenuous for about 6 weeks after the surgery
  • Resume driving 5 weeks after being discharged from the healthcare facility (or as advised by your physician)
  • Individuals are advised to have to clear liquids immediately after the surgery, until the gastrointestinal tract begins properly functioning. Individuals are then advised to have a well-balanced diet, which can aid in a faster recovery


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26-02-2017 03:54 PM

Pneumonectomy was performed on me when I was facing some problems in my lung. It is a painful procedure and takes time to recover.

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