Each lung is made up of 2 or 3 sections called lobes. A lobectomy is the surgical removal of one of these sections from the lung.
A lobectomy is used to treat a variety of lung conditions, such as Lung cancerCongenital defectsCystsTuberculosisFungal infectionsAbscessesLobar emphysema
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Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like: InfectionBleedingAnesthesia-related problemsCollapsed lungNeed for prolonged artificial respiration on a ventilatorDamage to nearby organs or structuresChronic pain related to the surgeryDeath
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as: SmokingDrinkingChronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity
Your doctor may do the following:
Physical examBlood and urine testsChest x-rayPulmonary function testUltrasoundCT scanMRI scan
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
Blood thinnersAntiplateletsFollow a special diet if instructed.Eat a light meal the night before. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.Take antibiotics or other medications as directed.You may be asked to shower the night before the procedure with a special soap.Arrange to have someone drive you to and from the procedure. Arrange for help at home as you recover.
anesthesia will be given. You will be asleep.
A tube will be placed in your windpipe to help you breathe.
A lobectomy may be done in one of two ways: Traditional thoracotomy—A large incision will be made. The ribs will be spread. The doctor will locate and remove the lung lobe.Video-assisted thoracic procedure—Several small incisions will be made between your ribs. A tiny camera and special tools will be inserted through the incisions. Your doctor will be able to see the inside of your chest on a nearby monitor. The lung lobe will be located and removed.
If you are having a lobectomy to remove cancer, the doctor will also remove lymph glands in your chest. The glands will be tested for any sign of cancer.
After completing the procedure, your doctor will place tubes in your chest. They will help drain the chest cavity. The incision(s) will be closed with stitches or staples.
You will be taken to a recovery room. You will be given fluids and medications through an IV.
The procedure takes about 1-4 hours.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Thoracotomy—about 1-2 weeksVideo-assisted thoracic procedure—2-5 days
You will be asked to cough and walk often. You may be given an incentive spirometer. This is a breathing exercise device that will encourage you to take deep breaths. The chest tube will be removed before you go home.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as: Washing their handsWearing gloves or masksKeeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as: Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the sameReminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masksNot allowing others to touch your incision
Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions, which may include: You will likely be told to walk daily.Limit lifting during the first few days after your surgery.Follow directions to take care of your incision.Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.You will be given medication to help manage pain.Ask your doctor about when it is safe to drive and return to work.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur:
Signs of infection, including fever and chillsRedness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision sitePersistent nausea and vomitingPain that you cannot control with the medications you have been givenCough, shortness of breath, or chest painCoughing up yellow, green, or bloody mucusPain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
Call for emergency medical services right away for: Sudden chest painSudden shortness of breath
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Information for patients undergoing a thorascopic wedge/lobectomy. University of Michigan Department of Surgery website. Available at:
Accessed May 23, 2013.
Lobectomy. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at:
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/pulmonary/lobectomy_92,P07749. Accessed May 23, 2013.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Am J Med.
Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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