Lobectomy, pulmonary


A lobectomy is the removal of a lobe, or section, of the lung.


Lobectomies are performed to prevent the spread of cancer to other parts of the lung or other parts of the body, as well as to treat patients with such noncancerous diseases as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which cause airway obstruction.


Lung cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. It is expected to claim nearly 157,200 lives in 2003. Lung cancer kills more people than cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, and pancreas combined. Cigarette smoking accounts for nearly 90% of cases of lung cancer in the United States.

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer among both men and women and is the leading cause of death from cancer in both sexes. In addition to the use of tobacco as a major cause of lung cancer among smokers, second-hand smoke contributes to the development of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Exposure to asbestos and other hazardous substances is also known to cause lung cancer. Air pollution is also a probable cause, but makes a relatively small contribution to incidence and mortality rates. Indoor exposure to radon may also make a small contribution to the total incidence of lung cancer in certain geographic areas of the United States.

In each of the major racial/ethnic groups in the United States, the rates of lung cancer among men are about two to three times greater than the rates among women. Among men, age-adjusted lung cancer incidence rates (per 100,000) range from a low of about 14 among Native Americans to a high of 117 among African Americans, an eight-fold difference. For women, the rates range from approximately 15 per 100,000 among Japanese Americans to nearly 51 among Native Alaskans, only a three-fold difference.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

The following are risk factors for COPD:


Lobectomies of the lung are also called pulmonary lobectomies. The lungs are a pair of cone-shaped breathing organs within the chest. The function of the lungs is to draw oxygen into the body and release carbon dioxide, which is a waste product of the body's cells. The right lung has three lobes: a superior lobe, a middle lobe, and an inferior lobe. The left lung has only two, a superior and an inferior lobe. Some lobes exchange more oxygen than others. The lungs are covered by a thin membrane called the pleura. The bronchi are two tubes which lead from the trachea (windpipe) to the right and left lungs. Inside the lungs are tiny air sacs called alveoli and small tubes called bronchioles. Lung cancer sometimes involves the bronchi.

To perform a lobectomy, the surgeon makes an incision ( thoracotomy ) between the ribs to expose the lung while the patient is under general anesthesia. The chest cavity is examined and the diseased lung tissue is removed. A drainage tube (chest tube) is then inserted to drain air, fluid, and blood out of the chest cavity. The ribs and chest incision are then closed.

Lung surgery may be recommended for the following reasons:



In some cases, the diagnosis of a lung disorder is made when the patient consults a physician about chest pains or other symptoms. The symptoms of lung cancer vary somewhat according to the location of the tumor; they may include persistent coughing, coughing up blood, wheezing, fever, and weight loss. Patients with a lung abscess often have symptoms resembling those of pneumonia, including a high fever, loss of appetite, general weakness, and putrid sputum. The doctor will first take a careful history and listen to the patient's breathing with a stethoscope . Imaging studies include x ray studies of the chest and CT scans . If lung cancer is suspected, the doctor will obtain a tissue sample for a biopsy. If a lung abscess is suspected, the doctor will send a sample of the sputum to a laboratory for culture and analysis.

For patients with lungs that have been damaged by emphysema or chronic bronchitis, pulmonary function tests are conducted prior to surgery to determine whether the patient will have enough healthy lung tissue remaining after surgery. A test may be used before surgery to help determine how much of the lung can safely be removed. This test is called a quantitative ventilation/perfusion scan, or a quantitative V/Q scan.


Patients should not take aspirin or ibuprofen for seven to 10 days before surgery. Patients should also consult their physician about discontinuing any blood-thinning medications such as Coumadin (warfarin). The night before surgery, patients should not eat or drink anything after midnight.


If no complications arise, the patient is transferred from the surgical intensive care unit (ICU) to a regular hospital room within one to two days. Patients may need to be hospitalized for seven to 10 days after a lobectomy. A tube in the chest to drain fluid will probably be required, as well as a mechanical ventilator to help the patient breathe. The chest tube normally remains in place until the lung has fully re-expanded. Oxygen may also be required, either on a temporary or permanent basis. A respiratory therapist will visit the patient to teach him or her deep breathing exercises. It is important for the patient to perform these exercises in order to re-expand the lung and lower the risk of pneumonia or other infections. The patient will be given medications to control postoperative pain. The typical recovery period for a lobectomy is one to three months following surgery.


The specific risks of a lobectomy vary depending on the specific reason for the procedure and the general state of the patient's health; they should be discussed with the surgeon. In general, the risks for any surgery requiring a general anesthetic include reactions to medications and breathing problems. As previously mentioned, patients having part of a lung removed may have difficulty breathing and may require the use of oxygen. Excessive bleeding, wound infections, and pneumonia are possible complications of a lobectomy. The chest will hurt for some time after surgery, as the surgeon must cut through the patient's ribs to expose the lung. Patients with COPD may experience shortness of breath after surgery.

Normal results

The outcome of lobectomies depends on the general condition of the patient's lung. This variability is related to the fact that lung tissue does not regenerate after it is removed. Therefore, removal of a large portion of the lung may require a person to need oxygen or ventilator support for the rest of his or her life. On the other hand, removal of only a small portion of the lung may result in very little change to the patient's quality of life.

Morbidity and mortality rates

A small percentage of patients undergoing lung lobectomy die during or soon after the surgery. This percentage varies from about 3–6% depending on the amount of lung tissue removed. Of cancer patients with completely removable stage-1 non-small cell cancer of the lung (a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the lung), 50% survive five years after the procedure.


Lung cancer

The treatment options for lung cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, either alone or in combination, depending on the stage of the cancer.

After the cancer is found and staged, the cancer care team discusses the treatment options with the patient. In choosing a treatment plan, the most significant factors to consider are the type of lung cancer (small cell or non-small cell) and the stage of the cancer. It is very important that the doctor order all the tests needed to determine the stage of the cancer. Other factors to consider include the patient's overall physical health; the likely side effects of the treatment; and the probability of curing the disease, extending the patient's life, or relieving his or her symptoms.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Although surgery is rarely used to treat COPD, it may be considered for people who have severe symptoms that have not improved with medication therapy. A significant number of patients with advanced COPD face a miserable existence and are at high risk of death, despite advances in medical technology. This group includes patients who remain symptomatic despite the following:

After the severity of the patient's airflow obstruction has been evaluated, and the foregoing interventions implemented, a pulmonary disease specialist should examine him or her, with consideration given to surgical treatment.

Surgical options for treating COPD include laser therapy or the following procedures:



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Michael Zuck, Ph.D.
Crystal H. Kaczkowski, M.Sc.


Lobectomies are performed in a hospital by a thoracic surgeon, who is a physician who specializes in chest, heart, and lung surgery. Thoracic surgeons may further specialize in one area, such as heart surgery or lung surgery. They are board-certified through the Board of Thoracic Surgery, which is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. A doctor becomes board certified by completing training in a specialty area and passing a rigorous examination.


User Contributions:

Jithesh Kumar
My girl friend had to undergo lobectomy due to tuberculosis (drug resistant) and her right lungs was operated and removed. This was two years back. Now she is fine. I had some questions in mind:
1. How long can a person surivive after the surgery?
2. Whata re the chances of otehr persons getting infected - how contagious is this?
3. Does this disease spread through sputum , saliva, kissing or having sex?
4. Are there any problems on being pregnant?
5. How safe or healthy would the child be?
yes, here is so more.And thanks again. If you do not have the time to take it to him. Just try and mail it today. See you later on. Oh and let me know that you have this infor.
I had a lobectomy on my right lung 54 years ago when I was 7. I have bronchiectasis which was diagnosed when I was very young. I still have to take antibiotics and perform physiotherapy but I am alive and very greatful to the surgeon who performed the operation. I went on to marry and have 2 children. I have always lived life as normal as possible but do rest when I am not well. Enjoy life and thank God that he has bought you through this.
i had a left lower lobectomy, 3 days post op i reported my i had extremem left shoulder pain. six months later it was determined my rotator cuff is tore, now i a have pain in left shoulder. i have had the left shoulder repaired and spoke to patient advocate because the surgical pa said they could have tore it during my lobectomy. has anyone else had a similar experience.
I have just had my right upper lung removed through open surgery. Im two months post op and still having a great deal of pain. Im still having the common burning and sharp pains but havent heard of this tearing feeling under breast . Also breast is numb and nipple painful to touch.

Is anymone else having same problems
I Have COPD & had both upper lobes removed in 2010 ~ I have this cough & wheezing & it getting worse i been in & out of the hospital ~ Please can you tell me what i can do ~ I can't handle it anymore ~ I'm 59 years old ~
I had my right lower lobe removed due to cancer six years ago, ever since I have had problems on my right side, started out that if I turned my body to quick, like when i would back my car up it felt like something would twist over my ribs and cause alot of pain, I can see the bulge when it does this and it doesn't last long but man does it hurt. Know in the same area its like I have an alien in there, there's constant movement. I have tried to research this can't find anything and the surgeon that did the surgery has gone else were. And I haven't a doctor know so this makes things difficult. Has anyone experienced anything like this.
Julie Fletcher my surgery was the same at the same time and yes the same feeling in my breath and nipple plus a very sore right arm. I hope for you, me and all who have gone through this that each day we feel better and better :)
Pam mc deemott
Three weeks post op from a left, upper lung lobectony, with an 18 xm incision. I have never known such pain, I am a 15 year survivor of a left mastectomy from breast cancer,as well. Had I known the pain would be like this ,I would have opted to not have it done, I have small cell carcinoma, I am 59 yr old female. Yes,I am very lucky, cancer contained to the removed portion of lung, but, every movement is unbearable, I see surgeon at My Sinai next week, God Bless all who must have this surgery.
I had a lobectomy iof my upper right lung removed 7 years ago. A small cell cancerous tumor was removed - I am very lucky to be writing this comment 7 years later. There is still some discomfort from the incision which is wrapped around my upper chest area and goes around to my upper back. I feel no pain but sometimes I feel more of a tightness in the incision area. I do experience a shortness of breath occassionally more so when I have a sinus infection or a bad cold. I am 70"years old now and thank God for the very breath I take today. I never smoked and this diagnosis was a total surprise. It was a miracle that the small cell tumor was even detected. Blessings to all of you whomhave been faced with lobectomies.
Hi l had a right upper lobectomy 4weeks ago for Adenocarcinoma l have a 10inch scar from under my right breast up towards my shoulder blade ,it was also found in one lymph node .Pain is a frustrating issue nipple discomfort ,nerve type pain ,and when tired l feel like l have the worlds tightest bra on and pain in my diaphragm .l am under no illusion this may improve a little but l suspect a lot of these odd pains will remain a chronic problem. l am also aware that l am lucky they got it early on otherwise there would be no long term future for me and my family .So at the moment l cry daily just a little the pain is over whelming and small tasks are difficult, but l keep doing exercises to stretch the muscles ,take the minimum amount of analgesia usually 4-5 paracetamol but try every other option before taking any ,l hate taking tablets or anything .l live in hope as time passes l will get used to this but l cannot for one second accept any other treatments on offer to me ie chemo as l feel enough is enough. I also feel like something twists inside me when rushing or moving too quick it always makes me shout out for a moment ,l cannot predict when it is coming so l can't brace myself for its arrival ,this operation saved my life but l feel it will forever leave its footprint ,no more surgical or other intervention for me what will be will be .
Good day. I had a niece who is now suffering bronco neumonia. According to a Polmonologist, she had a water in her lung and need to be removed. My question is , is it okay that the water to be remove in her lungs even she is still 12 year old? Thank you.
I had a lobectomy of my upper left lung removed in 2012. I am truly blessed and highly favored that I made it through. There is still some discomfort and pain from the incision which is wrapped around my upper chest area and goes around to my upper back. I feel pain and a tightness in the incision area, it makes me stop short and try to lean in the opposite direction to stretch it out. it really doesn't help its just a reaction to the pain. Sometimes it feels as if something is moving inside me and I wonder if I have keloids inside my incision that are pulling on a muscle. I do experience a shortness of breath occassionally more so when I have a sinus infection or a bad cold. Does anyone know why this happens? Is there anything that can be done about it? I welcome all answers and comments.
Allan C Enyart
When I first saw your website, I was very pleased to see the comment section. I wanted to add a few more details to my first comment to everyone. My friend went to a dentist to have his #14 tooth extracted. The dentist decided to section the tooth so there was no problems concerning the sinus cavity. While the sectioning was in progress, my friend felt something in his mouth, gasped and aspirated the dental bur that was in the drill. The dentist sent him to the hospital and clinic for x-rays. The clinic wanted to wait a few days to see if the surgical bur would end up in the stomach and would pass thru the colon. A CT scan was completed and a bronchoscopy was completed 15 days later as an outpatient. The doctor was not able to retrieve the 2.5 cm metallic bur. Long story shorten - 4 months later a surgery was scheduled with several bronchoscopy's attempted with no success. A wedge resection was completed but bur was not in the section removed. The bur was finally retrieved with another bronchoscopy procedure. After five hour operation, my friend went home for a three month recovery. It will be two years in August he has been suffering shortness of breath and pain in his chest. He works along on his large cattle and crop operation. Are there any suggestions my friend can do to correct his health issues.
I had my left lower lobe removed due to cancer four years ago, since then I have had troubles with that side of my body from my back to the front side of my ribs. Doctors have made every kind of exams to discart cancer but have not identify the reason for the pain. If someone with similar experience has found any answer to the disconfort or at least a reson for it please let me know in this forum. Thanks
I had a right lower lobe lobectomy jan 20 and i have been so sick ever since. I have been in and out of the hospital with a cronic pneumonia. I was absolutely fine prior to thia surgery i had a nodule that grew in a short amount of.time. this is my 15 admission since my surgery all a weel or more each visit. No one xan figure out whats wrong blood clots pnemonia high blood pressurea numbness in boob andn surrounding areas also gained tons of weight from the prednisone i have 4 broken ribs from.coughing still havent completley healed since my surgery being sick. Im extremly frustrated. Tired of being sick. I lost 3 jobs im in school and worried to lose that my whole life has bern torn apart from this surgery im juat beyond frustareas. I wish i never had this done: \
shirley c chalkley
I had a lobectomy of my right upper lobe of my right lung in june of 2016. My right lung collapsed one night while opening the refrigerator.I thought I was having a heart attack due to the terrible pain in my chest and upper back area between my shoulder blades. It has been four months since my lobectomy of a portion of my upper right lobe of my right lung. Although the pain is not so bad as it was after surgery, I have awful muscle cramps between my breast bones and the upper right area of my right rib. Sometimes it feels like the whole area is swollen. It is so painful and very uncomfortable. I had an ultra sound done of the area and the results were negative. Is there anyone out there who has experienced these same symptoms. Will it soon go away or will I have this pain always from now on. Something else happened when the chest tube was being placed to inflate my collapsed lung. A large chest tube was placed through my right breast tissue instead of my ribs to reach my right lung. This caused excruciating pain in my breast and upper back. After being transferred to another hospital that night, the chest tube was removed and replaced with a smaller tube and positioned correctly through the correct route to my collapsed lung. I immediately felt relief, but I can't seem to get rid of the cramps and pain I am experiencing now.
I just had a right lower lobectomy for primary lung cancer. My nodes were all negative. My fear was the cancer was a reoccurrence from breast cancer 12 years ago. Than God it was not. I am 13 days post op with numbness from the chest tube site to my mid abdomen under my breast. Does this ever go away. I don't have pain at the incision site or chest tube site, just mid abdomen. Burning at times but more like I am really bruised. Taking Motrin during the day and Percocet at bedtime. I have no prior lung issues and I never smoked. Go figure!
I had a right lobectomy 2014 now very short of breath,6weeks after opp was told stapler went through the phenic nerve when closing up after surgery,now had ultra sound right lung and diaphragm now paralysed.
i had a right lung lonectomy when I was 7 yrs of age I am now 71 yrs of age had 3 children never smoked health was good worked in an office then cared for elderly for 20 yrs I do have a number of health issues at min but getting along quite well and I expect to live quite a lot longer I had TB
Diana Crane
6/2/26 tumor with cancer cell present, 8/8/16 upper right quadrant lobectomy , 6 months later small tumor lower left, first biopsy missed diagnose, PET GUIDED BIOPSY foind tumor and cancer cells. Thorasic surgeon ordered lower left lobectomy with 2 broncoscopy, really scared, but hoping to be prescribed medical marijana as hydrocone 10/325 mask pain, want Inogen 4 so still able to walk without total loss air. I have DNR and donated body to DesMoines University to donate usable organs, eyes, but still want to pull thru for a time til I get things squared away. I experience so much pain and heard hydrocodone work about 6 months what should i ask for now to. Let me enjoy what days have left. Ty Diana in zIowa
Teresa Ritchie
My right lung was removed about 4 months ago. I noticed It is not easy to breathe when it is humid outside Can the hospital give me oxygen after I am released from their care?
jerry atson
I am not sure of the cause of COPD emphysema in my case. I smoked pack a day for 12 or 13 years, but quit 40 years ago. I have been an outdoor person all my adult life. Coughing started last summer producing thick mucus, greenish tint to clear. I tried prednisone and antibiotics, but no change. X-rays are negative, heart lungs and blood and serum chemistries all are normal. I have lung calcification from childhood bout with histoplasmosis. I am 75 years old and retired.My current doctor directed me to totalcureherbsfoundation .c om which I purchase the COPD herbal remedies from them ,they are located in Johannesburg, the herbal treatment has effectively reduce all my symptoms totally, am waiting to complete the 15 weeks usage because they guaranteed me total cure.

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