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Patients with chronic infection or lung cancer may be referred to a specialist consultant for surgery to remove one or more lobes.

There are five lobes in your lungs – three in your right lung and 2 in your left.

New advances in surgical techniques now offer patients more minimally invasive surgery using a thin instrument with a camera at the end called a thoracoscope and several small incisions (cuts).

What happens during a video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) lobectomy?

A lobectomy is usually done under general anaesthetic and can take 2-3 hours. After you are asleep you will be positioned on your side. Your surgeon will make several small incisions in your side. They will insert the thoracoscope into one of these incisions. The camera at the end of the thoracoscope allows your surgeon to view inside your chest and lungs on a video monitor. Other surgical instruments will be inserted in the other incisions to remove the diseased lobe(s). This tissue may be sent to a lab for analysis. When all the instruments are removed one or more tubes may be placed in your wounds to drain away excess fluid. These will be removed before you go home. Your wounds will be closed with stitches or staples.

You will be taken to a recovery area and once you have recovered from the anaesthetic, to a bed in a ward. You may need to stay in hospital 2-3 nights. We will give you medication for pain relief but please let us know if you are in any discomfort.

Going home after VATS lobectomy

You will not be able to drive home so please arrange for someone to drive you on your day of discharge. Continue to take any pain medication as needed. Everyone recovers differently however most patients return to normal daily activities about 2 weeks after surgery. Discuss any return to work with your consultant.

Most patients recover well from VATS lobectomy. As with any surgical procedure there could be complications including:

Specific complications of VATS lobectomy may include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Chest pain
  • An air leak from your lungs

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