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A Patient's Guide to Lung Surgery

Common Reasons for Lung Surgery

Surgery is often done to get a closer look at the inside of the the lungs and to help treat lung problems. If a mass is found in the lung, surgery can help determine its cause. If necessary, the mass may also be removed. Surgery may be done for other conditions, as well, such as collapsed lung or fluid around the lung.

A Lung Mass

If a mass has been found in the lung, a biopsy (sample) can be removed and examined to determine whether the growth is benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). In addition, the exact location and size of the mass can be measured, and other areas can be examined to check whether the mass has spread. If the mass needs to be removed, its size, location, and spread determine how much of the surrounding lung also needs to be removed. Removal of part or all of a lung is called lung resection.

Surgical Techniques for Treating a Lung Mass
wedge resection, segment resection, lobectomy, pneumonectomy

A Collapsed Lung

If a portion of the lung wall is thin or ruptured, air may leak into the pleural space. When air collects in the pleural space, the lung may collapse. This is known as collapsed lung or pneumothorax. Tubes placed during surgery can drain air from the pleural space so the lung re-expands. During surgery, the wall of the lung can also be repaired so it won't collapse again.

Fluid Around the Lungs

Fluid may collect in the area around the lungs. One common cause of fluid around the lungs is a lung infection, which may be a complication of certain types of surgery or an illness such as pneumonia. During surgery, tubes can be placed in the pleural space to drain fluid and help the lungs heal.


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