The lungs are comprised of lobes. The right lung has an upper lobe, middle lobe, and lower lobe. The left lung has an upper and a lower lobe.
If a cancer or lesion is within a lobe of the lung, removal of the involved lobe may be indicated. Under general anesthesia with the patient deep asleep and pain free, an incision is made between the ribs to expose the lung. The chest cavity is examined and diseased lung tissue is removed. A drainage tube (chest tube) is inserted to drain air, fluid, and blood out of the chest cavity, and the ribs and skin are closed. The remaining lung tissue expands to fill the chest.
Hospital stay is usually 7 - 10 days. Deep breathing is important to help prevent pneumonia and infection, and to re-expand the lung. The chest tube remains in place until the lung has fully re-expanded. Pain is managed with medications. The patient recovers fully in 1 - 3 months after the operation.
Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital.
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