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Your Lobectomy Procedure

What Will Happen During My Surgery?


Updated June 04, 2014

Your Lobectomy Procedure


A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia

During your lobectomy procedure, your surgeon will remove the lobe of your lung that is affected by lung cancer. Depending upon the type of lobectomy procedure your surgeon recommends, your cancer may be removed through an open incision or through the use of instruments inserted through smaller incisions. Here's what will happen during your lobectomy procedure.

In the operating room, you will be given a general anesthetic to put you to sleep, and an endotracheal tube will be placed through your mouth to allow a ventilator to breathe for you during surgery.

In an open lobectomy, a long incision will be made along your side following the curve of your ribs. The surgeon will spread your ribs and may remove a portion of a rib to gain access to your lung. The blood vessels (arteries and veins) and airways leading to the affected lobe are tied off, and the lobe is then removed. Prior to closing the incisions, your surgeon will insert a chest tube that will be left in place for a period of time. The chest tube allows excess blood and fluids to drain following surgery, and will be removed when the drainage has stopped.

With a VATS lobectomy, surgeons make several small incisions on your chest through which they can insert instruments and a small video camera (a thoroscope). The camera projects an image onto a video screen that allows the surgeons to see the area they are working on. The blood vessels and airways to the involved lobe are tied off with the use of these instruments, and the lobe is removed through one of the incisions. Following removal of the lobe, surgeons may also biopsy or remove lymph nodes in the area near the tumor.

Sometimes surgeons encounter problems during a VATS lobectomy, such as bleeding or a tumor that cannot be adequately removed. In this case, the procedure may need to be converted to an open lobectomy.

Further Reading


American Cancer Society. Detailed Guide: Lung Cancer – Non-Small Cell. Surgery. Updated 12/16/10. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/lungcancer-non-smallcell/detailedguide/non-small-cell-lung-cancer-treating-surgery

Erhunmwunsee, L. and M. Onaitis. Smoking cessation and the success of lung cancer surgery. Current Oncology Reports. 2009. 11(4):269-74.

Sawada, S. et al. Comparison in prognosis after VATS lobectomy and open lobectomy for stage I lung cancer. Surgical Endoscopy. 2007. 21(9):1607-11.

Whitson, B. et al. Surgery for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer: a systematic review of the video-assisted thoracoscopy surgery versus thoracotomy applications to lobectomy. Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 2008. 86(6):2008-16.

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