(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 trachea (windpipe) disorders
- Remove a portion of the lung or the entire lung
- Treat esophagus (throat) disorders
- Reinflate lung tissue that has collapsed due to disease or trauma
- Remove pus from the chest
- Remove blood clots from the chest
- Damage to the organs in the chest
- Persistent pain (only in a few cases)
- Reaction to anesthesia
- Collection of air or gases in the chest
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, like:
- Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
- Blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
- 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 antinausea drugs.
- Do coughing and deep breathing exercises. 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.
- Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids.
- Do not smoke.
- Avoid environments that expose you to germs, smoke, or chemical irritants.
- 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 come apart
- Bandage becomes soaked with blood
- Cough 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
- Pain, burning, urgency or frequency of urination, or persistent blood in the urine
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.
Saint Mary's Hospital, Saginaw website. Available at: http://www.hospitalsoup.com/rn/asp/HospitalID.11842/pt/hospitaldetails3.asp. Accessed October 14, 2005.
University of Southern California, Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at: http://www.cts.usc.edu/videoassistedthoracoscopicsurgery.html. Accessed June 15, 2007.
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: Marcin Chwistek, MD
- Review Date: 10/2012 -
- Update Date: 10/31/2012 -