This picture shows normal lungs. Your right lung has 3 lobes and left lung has 2 lobes.
Your doctor may use this picture to tell you about your lungs and what may happen during your surgery.
There are 3 main types of lung surgery. You may expect to have one type, but have another type done. This is because your surgeon talks with you about the type of surgery that you may need before seeing your lungs in the operating room (OR). In the OR, your surgeon may decide that one of the other types of lung surgery is best for you.
Three main types of lung surgery
- Wedge resection: A small part (wedge) of the lung is removed.
- Lobectomy: A whole lobe of the lung is removed.
- Pneumonectomy: The whole lung is removed.
Two main types of incisions
There are 2 types of incisions for lung surgery. Most likely, you will have one type. In some cases, both types are needed. The 2 types are thoracoscopy and thoracotomy.
What is a thoracoscopy?
Thoracoscopy, also known as VATS (Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery), is done with a tiny camera that is put into the chest through 3 small incisions (each about the size of the width of a finger). This allows the surgeon to look around the chest to diagnose and treat problems in the chest. VATS can be used to repair a collapsed lung, remove a section of lung, take tissue samples, or drain fluid from around the lung. If cancer is found, the doctor may need to do a thoracotomy after the VATS while you are still in the OR. This would be done if the tumor or part of the lung that needs to be removed is too big for the small VATS incision. VATS is preferred for lung surgery here at UWHC. If it is not possible to do a VATS, a thoracotomy is done.
What is a thoracotomy?
A thoracotomy is an incision of the chest wall that is first made between the muscles of the chest wall and then between two ribs. Most of the time, there is 1 incision and it is about 3 - 4 inches long. In rare cases, 2 incisions are needed.
Preparing for Surgery
You can do a few things to improve your health before your surgery.
Start walking. Try to walk at least 20 minutes most days of the week. If you haven’t been active, start slowly. Try walking 5-10 minutes a day and slowly increase the time. You will walk at least 4 times a day in the hospital after your surgery.
Eat well-balanced, healthy meals. Tell your surgeon right away, if you aren’t able to eat or you’re losing weight. Healthy eating helps you heal. Poor nutrition or weight loss slows healing and may lead to problems such as infection.
Stop smoking now, if you smoke. If you smoke anytime during the 10 days before your surgery, your surgery will be cancelled. Smoking slows healing. When you smoke, you are much more likely to get pneumonia after surgery. If you need help quitting, call:
- Smoking Cessation Clinic (608) 263-0573
- Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669
- Your primary care provider
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 06/20/2012
Copyright © 06/07/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7366
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