Lung surgery is employed for the repair or removal of diseased lung tissue. There are different types of lung surgeries that can be performed, depending on the nature of the disease:
- Lung biopsy: A biopsy is a procedure employed to remove a small piece of lung tissue for laboratory examination.
- Lobectomy: A lobectomy is a surgical procedure in which one or more lobes of a lung are removed.
- Lung transplant: It is a surgical procedure to replace a diseased lung with a healthy lung from a donor.
- Pneumonectomy: Pneumonectomy refers to the surgical removal of an entire lung.
- Wedge resection: Wedge resection refers to the removal of a part of a lobe.
- Surgery to prevent the recurrence of fluid collection between the lung and chest cavity.
- Surgery to remove accumulated blood or infection from the chest cavity.
- Surgical removal of small balloons of tissue, called blebs, which can cause lung collapse.
- Thoracotomy: It refers to the surgical incision made over the chest to gain access to the chest cavity.
Lung surgery is performed under general anaesthesia. Lung surgery can be performed via thoracotomy (open chest surgery) or video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS).
In a thoracotomy, the patient is placed on the operating table, on their side with the arm placed above the head. This surgery may last for 2 to 6 hours. An incision is made along the side of the chest, towards the back, between the ribs. The ribs are spread apart and the lung on the affected side is deflated to allow more room for the surgeon to operate. The amount of lung tissue that needs to be removed may only be determined after the chest is opened and the lung tissue is examined. The surrounding lymph nodes may also be removed. After the surgery, drainage tubes may be placed in the chest to drain the fluids from the chest cavity. The ribs, muscles, and skin are then closed with sutures.
In video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), your surgeon will make several small incisions over your chest wall. A long, thin tube (videoscope) with a camera attached to one end and small surgical instruments are inserted into the chest through the small incisions. Then, a part or the entire lung may be removed. This may also be coupled with other procedures. A chest tube is inserted to drain the accumulated blood or fluid. This surgical approach results in less pain and faster recovery compared to open lung surgery.
A thoracotomy or video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is done to remove lung cancer or tumours, accumulated fluid, blood or blood clots, and infections from the chest cavity. They may also be used for biopsy and management of collapsed lung tissue and lung injuries.