Health Information

Condition Detail

(Removal of a Lung Lobe)

Definition

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.

Reasons for Procedure

A lobectomy is used to treat a variety of lung conditions, such as
Lung Cancer
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Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Anesthesia-related problems
  • Collapsed lung
  • Need for prolonged artificial respiration on a ventilator
  • Damage to nearby organs or structures
  • Chronic pain related to the surgery
  • Death
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

  • Your doctor may do the following:
  • Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Blood thinners
    • Antiplatelets
  • Follow 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

General anesthesia will be given. You will be asleep. A tube will be placed in your windpipe to help you breathe.

Description of Procedure

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.

Immediately After Procedure

You will be taken to a recovery room. You will be given fluids and medications through an IV.

How Long Will It Take?

The procedure takes about 1-4 hours.

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.

Average Hospital Stay

  • Thoracotomy—about 1-2 weeks
  • Video-assisted thoracic procedure—2-5 days

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital
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.
Preventing Infection
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping 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 same
  • Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
  • Not allowing others to touch your incision
At Home
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

Call your doctor if any of the following occur:
  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Coughing up yellow, green, or bloody mucus
  • Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
Call for emergency medical services right away for:
  • Sudden chest pain
  • Sudden shortness of breath
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES

American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org

National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

References

Information for patients undergoing a thorascopic wedge/lobectomy. University of Michigan Department of Surgery website. Available at: http://thoracic.um-surgery.org/clinical/discharge%5Ffollowup/teaching/tscope%5Flobe.shtml. Accessed May 23, 2013.

Lobectomy. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test%5Fprocedures/pulmonary/lobectomy%5F92,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. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.

Revision Information