Lung surgery


Lung surgery is surgery to repair or remove lung tissue. Several common lung surgeries are:

A thoracotomy is a surgical cut that a surgeon makes to open the chest wall.

Alternative Names

Thoracotomy; Lung tissue removal; Pneumonectomy; Lobectomy; Lung biopsy; Thoracoscopy; Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery; VATS


You will receive general anesthesia before surgery. You will be asleep and unable to feel pain. Two common ways to do surgery on your lungs are thoracotomy and video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS).

Lung surgery using a thoracotomy is called open surgery. In this surgery:

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery:

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Thoracotomy or video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery may be done to:

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery can be used to treat many of these conditions. However, sometimes video surgery may not be possible, and the surgeon may have to switch to an open surgery.


Risks for any anesthesia include:

Risks for any surgery include:

Risks of this surgery include:

Before the Procedure

You will have several visits with your health care provider and undergo medical tests before your surgery. Your health care provider will:

If you are a smoker, you should stop smoking several weeks before your surgery. Ask your doctor or nurse for help.

Always tell your doctor or nurse:

During the week before your surgery:

On the day of your surgery:

After the Procedure

Most people stay in the hospital for 5 to 7 days for open thoracotomy and 1 to 3 days after video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery. You may spend time in the intensive care unit (ICU) after either surgery.

During your hospital stay, you will:

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome depends on:


Putnam JB Jr. Lung, chest wall, pleura, and mediastinum. In: Townsend CM Jr., Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 58.

Wiener-Kronish JP, Shepherd KE, Bapoje SR, Albert RK. Preoperative evaluation. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus C, Martin T, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2010:chap 26.

Tsiouris A, Horst HM, Paone G, Hodari A, Eichenhorn M, Rubinfeld I. Preoperative risk stratification for thoracic surgery using the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program data set: Functional status predicts morbidity and mortality. J Surg Res. 2012: epub ahead of print.

Review Date: 6/4/2012
Reviewed By: Shehzad Topiwala, MD, Chief Consultant Endocrinologist, Premier Medical Associates, The Villages, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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