(Lung Surgery; Surgery, Lung)
Reasons for Procedure
- Confirm diagnosis of a lung or chest disease
- Repair the heart or the vessels of the lung and heart
- Treat windpipe disorders
- Remove a portion of the lung or the entire lung
- Reinflate lung tissue that has collapsed due to disease or trauma
- Remove pus from the chest
- Remove blood clots from the chest
- Remove tumors or lymph nodes
- Collapsed lung
- Damage to the organs in the chest
- Reaction to anesthesia
- Collection of air or gases in the chest
- Persistent pain—rare
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Physical exam
- Blood and urine tests
- X-ray, CT scan , or MRI scan of the chest
- Pulmonary function tests to see how well your lungs work
- Heart function tests
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure such as:
- Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
- Blood thinners
- You may be asked to use an enema to clear your digestive system.
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
- To minimize complications, stop smoking at least 2-3 weeks before surgery.
Description of Procedure
|Drainage Tubes and Incision After Thoracotomy|
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Immediately After Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
- You will have IV lines and tubes in and around your body. Some of the lines and tubes will help you urinate, breath, and get nutrition. Most of the lines and tubes will be removed as you recover.
- You may be given antibiotics, pain medicine, or anti-nausea drugs.
- Do coughing and deep breathing exercises.You may also use an incentive spirometer to help you with this. Do them often to help keep your lungs clear.
- Get out of bed often and sit in a chair. Increase your activity as much as you are able.
- Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Do not smoke.
- Avoid environments that expose you to germs, smoke, or chemical irritants.
- Ask your doctoer when it is safe to drive and return to work.
- Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions .
Call Your Doctor
- Difficulty breathing or cough
- New pain in the chest or persistent and severe pain in the area of surgery
- Stitches or staples that come apart
- Excessive bleeding at the site of the incision
- Coughing up mucus that is yellow, green, or bloody
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge at the incision site
- Severe nausea or vomiting
American Thoracic Society http://www.thoracic.org
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons http://www.sts.org
Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery http://canadianvascular.ca
The Lung Association http://www.lung.ca
Athanassiadi K, Kakaris S, Theakos N, Skottis I. Muscle-sparing versus posterolateral thoracotomy: a prospective study. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg . 2007;31:496-500.
Levy MH, Chwistek M, Mehta RS. Management of chronic pain in cancer survivors. Cancer J . 2008 Nov-Dec; 14(6):401-409.
Ohbuchi T, Morikawa T, Takeuchi E, Kato H. Lobectomy: video-assisted thoracic surgery versus posterolateral thoracotomy. Jpn J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg . 1998 Jun;46(6):519-22.
Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). University of Southern California, Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at: http://www.cts.usc.edu/videoassistedthoracoscopicsurgery.html. Accessed May 22, 2013.
Wildgaard K, Ravn J, Kehlet H.Chronic post-thoracotomy pain: a critical review of pathogenic mechanisms and strategies for prevention. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg . 2009 Jul;36(1):170-180. Review.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014 -
- Update Date: 03/18/2013 -