The most common type of lobectomy is known as a thoracotomy. When this type of surgery is done the chest is opened up. An incision will be made on the side of the chest where the affected area of the lung is located. The incision will be in between the two ribs located in that area. The surgeon will then be able to have access to the chest cavity once the two involved ribs have been pried open. The surgeon will then be able to remove the lobe where the problem is contained. Another way a lobectomy can be performed is through a video assisted surgery. With this type the surgeon does not need to pry the two ribs open in order to get in. A few small incisions are made and surgical tools are inserted into the chest cavity. A small camera with a light will then be inserted. What the camera sees will be projected onto a screen that the surgeon can see. Once the problem area is located the small tools that were previously inserted will be utilized to perform the surgery. Once the surgery is complete, the patient will remain in the intensive care unit of the hospital for a day. They will then remain in a regular hospital room for about 4 to 7 days.
As with any surgery, complications may occur. The most common problems a patient runs the risk of because of this surgery include infections, reactions to anesthesia, bleeding, pneumothorax and bronchopleural fistula. The main infection that a patient runs the risk of is pneumonia. Pneumothorax occurs when there is air trapped between the lung and the chest wall. This can lead to the patients lung collapsing. A bronchopleural fistula is when there is a tube like opening that allows air to escape. Patients undergoing pulmonary resections often present postoperative air leaks.
Once the surgery is complete, the patient will remain in the intensive care unit of the hospital for a day. They will then remain in a regular hospital room for about 4 to 7 days. After the patient returns home they usually must remain in recovery for about four to six weeks, although some patients may be able to return to work/normal activities not long after returning home from the hospital. Pain is very common amongst patients for quite some time after a lobectomy. Patients can talk to their doctors about how to manage their pain while recovery at home and doctors will prescribe pain medication to help with this. Chest tubes are left inside of the patient in order to help excess fluid drain. These will be removed by a doctor in a few days. In order for chest tubes to be removed doctors must ensure that there is no longer fluid leaking from them along with no air leaking. In addition to this, follow up appointments will be scheduled with the patients doctor. X-rays will be taken of the patient's lung to make sure everything is healing properly. Patients that have had a lobectomy with no major risks shall recover in no longer than three months.
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