If you have a lung injury or illness, your doctor may tell you you need to have lung surgery as part of your treatment. If you’re getting ready to have lung surgery or know someone who is, understanding what the different procedures involve can help you feel better prepared and more relaxed as you plan for the operation. Learn the basics of lung surgery with this quick guide.
What Is Lung Surgery?
Lung surgery is a treatment procedure that’s done with the goal of removing or repairing the tissues in your lungs. There’s a variety of common reasons why people undergo lung surgery, such as to remove blood or blood clots; to prevent a collapsed lung, which can happen due to injury or infection; to prevent fluid from building up in the lungs and to treat a condition like lung cancer or an infection. The type of treatment and the treatment outcome you need will determine the type of surgery you have.
Just as there are various reasons for having lung surgery, there are also different types of surgical procedures people commonly have performed on their lungs. If you have a lung tumor or your doctor suspects you may have lung cancer, you may have a procedure done that’s called a biopsy. This involves taking a small sample of tissue from your lung (or a tumor inside it) that your doctor performs tests on to provide a diagnosis.
If your physician does diagnose you with lung cancer or you have an infection or other damage to your lung, you may have a surgery called a lobectomy. In total, your lungs have five different sections called lobes, and this surgery removes one or two of the lobes to also remove the injured area of your lung. If there’s only a small area of damage to your lung, you may have a wedge resection instead. This surgery removes a small section of lung tissue instead of an entire lobe.
If you have more extensive damage to one of your lungs, you may need a surgery called a pneumonectomy. During this procedure, a surgeon removes your entire lung. This is a more invasive surgery with a longer recovery time. You may also have a lung transplant, which involves removing a diseased lung and replacing it with a healthy lung from a donor.