Definition & Overview
The human lungs have several lobes, with the right lung typically having three while the left one having two. If one or more of these lobes no longer function normally, the doctor would recommend a lung lobe removal procedure, a major surgery called pulmonary lobectomy, to prevent further complications.
There are several types of pulmonary lobectomy depending on the number and location of the lobes to be removed. These include bilobectomy (the removal of two lobes), left upper lobectomy, and right lower lobectomy.
Who Should Undergo & Expected Results
A pulmonary lobectomy is used to treat:
- Lung cancer (to prevent its spread to other organs and parts of the body)
- Tuberculosis that does not respond to medications
- Lesions or blisters in some parts of their lungs
- Emphysema or fungal infection (if no other medical treatment or recourse is possible)
In rare instances, pulmonary lobectomy is also performed on infants who are diagnosed with congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation (the presence of a noncancerous mass of lung tissue at birth) or pulmonary sequestration (the presence of abnormal lung tissue before birth).
Following surgery, the patient is placed in intensive care unit for at least a day before being transferred to a hospital room. Recovery is gradual, taking weeks or even months. Patients are given medication to manage pain, as well. To help the lungs recover and regain function, patients are also required to undergo physical therapy. The outcome of this procedure depends on several factors, including age and general health status of the patient, as well as the severity of the condition.
How Does the Procedure Work?
The procedure starts with the administration of anaesthesia.
There are two major ways of performing a lung lobe removal. One is the traditional method or open surgery called thoracotomy, in which the surgeon makes a large incision in the chest. The ribs are pulled apart to locate and remove the diseased or abnormal lobe.
Alternatively, the surgeon could also decide to make several small incisions in the chest area to insert small surgical tools with a camera. This minimally invasive procedure is called video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) and is considered less traumatic compared to thoracotomy.
The surgeon also ties off the blood vessels going to and from the affected lobe. Tubes are then placed inside the chest to drain any fluid or remove extra air that might accumulate in the area. The incisions are closed using stitches or surgical staples.
In some instances, it is possible for a surgeon to perform thoracotomy even if the patient has already undergone VATS to ensure the success of the procedure.
Possible Complications and Risks
Those undergoing a major surgical procedure would always face several potentially life-threatening risks. These include adverse reaction to anaesthesia, internal bleeding, blood clotting, or bacterial infection. There is also the possibility of blood infection, called septicemia.
Despite the presence of drain tubes in the chest, fluid buildup in the lungs can still be a major concern. This is why patients are closely monitored for several days after surgery. The space left by the procedure could also cause leakage of air into the area between the lungs and chest wall. A collapsed lung is also a possibility, leading to respiratory failure and even death.
Some patients also report the development of abnormal heart rhythm following pulmonary lobectomy as well as changes in lung functions.
Putnam JB Jr. Lung, chest wall, pleura, and mediastinum. In: Townsend CM Jr., Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 58.
Tsiouris A, Horst HM, Paone G, Hodari A, Eichenhorn M, Rubinfeld I. Preoperative risk stratification for thoracic surgery using the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program data set: Functional status predicts morbidity and mortality. J Surg Res. 2012: epub ahead of print.
What is Pulmonary Lobectomy? Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results
Pulmonary lobectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing a portion (or lobe) of the lung. It is commonly used to treat lung cancer, infections such as tuberculosis or as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of developing cancer. In this article, we will discuss the overview of the procedure, the benefits, and the expected results of a pulmonary lobectomy.
What Is Pulmonary Lobectomy?
A pulmonary lobectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove a lobe (or section) of the lung. The procedure is typically done to treat a condition such as lung cancer, tuberculosis, an infection, or a preventative measure to reduce the risk of developing cancer.
The procedure is performed under general anesthesia, via an open chest incision or laparoscopically using specialized tools. The surgeon will make an incision into the patient’s chest. This incision will be long enough to reach the affected lobe.
Once the lobe has been removed, the surgeon will then use sutures to close the incision and will insert tubes into the area to help drain any fluid from the chest.
Benefits of Pulmonary Lobectomy
The benefits of a pulmonary lobectomy depend on the condition being treated. In general, the benefits of the procedure include:
- Removal of cancerous or infected tissue
- Improved breathing function
- Lowered risk of developing cancer
- Reduced pain or discomfort from breathing
- Reduced chances of relapse or spread of cancer or infection
- Preventative measure to stop the spread of cancer or infection to other parts of the body
Expected Results of Pulmonary Lobectomy
The expected results of a pulmonary lobectomy depend on the reasons for the procedure. Generally, it is expected that the patient will have improved breathing function and reduced pain or discomfort from breathing.
In terms of lung cancer, a patient who undergoes a pulmonary lobectomy will experience a lower risk of the cancer spreading or returning. Additionally, patients who have had a lobectomy to remove a cancerous lobe may experience an increased quality of life due to improved breathing function.
Risks of Pulmonary Lobectomy
A pulmonary lobectomy is considered a safe procedure with very few risks. However, as with any surgical procedure, there are some risks involved, including but not limited to:
- Damage to other organs or tissues
- Collapsed lung
- Scar tissue formation
- Breathing difficulty
- Blood clot formation
- Nerve damage
- Reaction to anesthesia
It is important to discuss all the risks and benefits of the procedure with your doctor prior to undergoing a pulmonary lobectomy.
Recovery from a Pulmonary Lobectomy
The recovery time for a pulmonary lobectomy varies depending on the individual and the reasons why the surgery was performed. Generally, it can take several weeks or months for a full recovery. Full recovery usually takes place when the patient is able to resume all of their regular activities, including exercise.
Recovery usually involves rest, physical therapy, pain medications, breathing exercises, and antibiotics if necessary. These measures help to reduce the risk of complications and an extra recovery can be beneficial. Your doctor will discuss your specific recovery plan with you.
Pulmonary lobectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing a portion (or lobe) of the lung. It is commonly used to treat lung cancer, infections such as tuberculosis, or as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of developing cancer. The benefits of a pulmonary lobectomy include: removal of cancerous or infected tissue, improved breathing functions, lowered risk of developing cancer, reduced pain or discomfort from breathing, and reduced chances of relapse or spread of cancer or infection. The expected results depend on the reasons for the procedure, and generally include improved breathing function and reduced pain or discomfort from breathing. As with any surgical procedure, there are some risks involved and it is important to discuss these with your doctor prior to undergoing a pulmonary lobectomy. Recovery from the procedure can take several weeks or months, and may involve rest, physical therapy, pain medications, breathing exercises, and antibiotics.