July 25, 2024


A lung pneumonectomy is a treatment option for severe conditions like lung cancer, invasive tumors, or in some cases even tuberculosis.

What is a pneumonectomy?

A pneumonectomy is a procedure that is used to remove an entire lung. Removing a diseased lung can prevent disease from getting worse, prevent spreading to other organs, and provide the best chance of curing conditions like lung cancer.

How do I know if I need a pneumonectomy?

Recommendation for performing a lobectomy depend on the size, spread, and severity of the tumor.

Tests that will confirm that the patient is a candidate for the procedure are:

  • Imaging tests (X-ray)
  • PET-CT scans (computerized tomography)
  • Tissue samples, biopsy
  • Microscopic evidence, lung cancer cells found in sputum from coughing

Pneumonectomy Surgery? How is it performed?

The removal of a lung using a thoracotomy.

Open (Thoracotomy) Pneumonectomy

To remove an entire lung, open-chest surgery is necessary. A thoracotomy is performed to allow the surgeon to have open access to the organ the chest (thoracic) cavity. The cut (or incision) is about 10-15cm that extends from the patient’s side from over the ribs, under the arm, and up the back. This will allow the surgeon to have a clear view of the lungs to perform surgery.

Risk of surgery:

  • Infection
  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • Excessive bleeding

Risks of a thoracotomy pneumonectomy:

A thoracotomy pneumonectomy is a serious procedure, and is generally safe but not without its own risks. The risks of a thoracatomy are mostly related to the incision itself. Management of both infection and pain of the incision are serious concerns during and after surgery.

This surgery can be recommended for:

  • Mediastinal tumors (within the chest)
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Small tumors close to major blood vessels
  • Removal of large tumors
  • Conditions of existing scar tissue damage
  • Lymph nodes found close to vital organs

Goals of pneumonectomy:

  • Stop the spread of disease or cancerous growth
  • Improve breathing in long-term recovery
  • Increase survival of patients invasive malignant cancers