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A Patient's Guide to Lung Surgery

What is Lung Surgery?

Lung surgery involves entering the chest wall to get to the lung. These are done either by thoracoscopy or thoracotomy. Your surgeon will choose the method that’s best for your condition.

Types of Lung Surgery
Lobectomy removes an entire lobe. Pneumonectomy removes the entire lung.
Wedge Resection removes a small portion of a lobe.Segmentectomy removes a larger portion of a lobe.

lobectomy, pneumonectomy, wedge resection, segmentectomy


Thoracoscopy is a minimally invasive technique that uses several small incisions. The surgeon places a thin tube containing a camera (thoracoscope) through one incision and can view and "explore" the inside of the chest cavity on a video monitor. A thoracoscope is an endoscopic instrument, which is usually composed of either two channels. In a two-channel thoracoscope, one channel is a fiber optic light channel that allows the surgeon to bring light into the chest cavity. The other channel is an optic system that allows the surgeon to look down the scope into the chest cavity, and to introduce instruments that can be used to obtain pieces of abnormal tissue (biopsies). More information on video-assisted thoracoscopy


Thoracotomy is an open chest technique that uses a larger incision in the chest. This opening allows the surgeon to see the lungs directly.

Either procedure may be done alone, or a thoracoscopy may be done to help decide whether a thoracotomy is needed.

What Can Lung Surgery Do for Me?

Your doctor is recommending lung surgery because it's the best way to treat your lung condition. If a problem has been found in your lung during a routine test (such as an x-ray), surgery may be necessary to confirm the exact diagnosis. This is especially true when a mass is found in your lung. Surgery can also be used to treat lung problems such as fluid around the lung or a weak lung wall. If necessary, surgery can be done to remove part or all of one of your lungs. Whatever your condition, your doctor can explain what the goals of surgery are for you.


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