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UW Health SMPH
American Family Children's Hospital

Lung Nodules

A mass, or nodule, on the lung can be a scary discovery. Lung nodules, which are often found on a chest X-ray, can be early indicators of cancer, infection, or other lung diseases such as Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF). Conversely, a lung nodule may just be a noncancerous growth (a hamartoma).

Because chest X-rays help to identify such a wide variety of lung disorders, lung nodules must be thoroughly evaluated, diagnosed, and treated appropriately. Even if the nodule presents no current threat, it must be regularly monitored for any change.

For these reasons, UW Health is pleased to offer a virtual Lung Nodule Clinic. This multidisciplinary clinic provides evaluation, diagnosis, surveillance, and treatment for all types of lung nodules.
Screening and Diagnosis
Patients who are referred to the Lung Nodule Clinic will be asked whether any previous chest X-rays are available. If so, we request that they be sent to our clinic. Previous X-rays are a helpful point of comparison for determining the growth pattern and potential cause of the nodule.

When you arrive at the clinic, your initial evaluation will consist of a physical examination and additional tests. These tests may include:

Our expert radiologists, physicians, and surgeons will then assess the results of your tests and identify the cause of the lung nodule.

If the lung nodule does not pose an immediate concern, we will ask you to return to the clinic every 6 to 12 months for a follow-up visit. At each visit, will determine whether the nodule has changed or any new disease is present. This ensures that your condition is being monitored carefully and consistently.

If the lung nodule does show disease, we will determine its type and how far it has progressed. Based on this, we will then recommend appropriate medical and/or surgical intervention.


Surgical Treatment


If the results of your evaluation show that surgery is required, you will then undergo a preoperative workup. The workup will determine whether you are a suitable candidate for surgery, and if so, the type of operation required.

UW Health offers numerous surgical treatments for lung disease. For patients with cancer, our expert surgeons perform an operation called pulmonary resection. Pulmonary resection is the surgical removal of the diseased portions of the lung. Removing a small portion of the lung is called limited resection; removing an entire lobe of the lung is called a lobectomy.


In some cases, pulmonary resection is performed as open surgery, which means the surgeon makes an incision in the side of the chest. In other cases, surgeons may use less invasive surgical techniques. These techniques use small incisions in the chest, special instruments, and video assistance.

For patients with pulmonary fibrosis or other interstitial lung diseases, pulmonary resection is not possible. This is because the disease affects the entire lung, not just one area. For patients who have these types of advanced diseases, our Lung Transplant program may offer a second chance at life.