Lung Resection

About Lung Resection Surgery

Your physician may request a lung biopsy if you have symptoms or chest x-ray findings that are concerning for cancer.  If the biopsy is positive for lung cancer, a lung resection may be required as part of a treatment plan.  Resection of lung cancer may be used alone or in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy. The decision to use surgery and/or chemotherapy is complex and depends primarily on the health of the patient, the type of cancer, the location of the cancer in the lungs, and how far the cancer has spread.  This decision is best made through a discussion between the patient, surgeon, and other physicians.

Lobes of the Lung in Lung Resection Surgery

There are different methods used to resect cancer. A surgeon may attempt to use video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), a form of minimally invasive lung surgery. During VATS, the surgeon uses small incision to access the lung cavity.  The surgeon will then pass a small camera (endoscope) through one of the incisions to view the lungs, and may perform surgery with instruments passed through other small incisions. The main advantage of VATS is that the procedure is less invasive than traditional surgery, where the chest has to be opened through a long incision in order to gain access to a diseased part of the lung.  VATS leads to a decreased duration of hospital stay and decreased level of pain when compared to traditional surgical techniques.

If the tumor cannot easily be visualized or is more extensive in depth, a thoracotomy may be used. A thoracotomy is a large incision in the chest wall that provides full access to the lungs.  In a thoracotomy, the patient is put to sleep with general anesthesia, and a 6 to 10 inch incision is made between the ribs. The surgeon will remove the tumor, surrounding lung tissue, and lymph nodes. The tumor, tissue, and nodes will be sent to a pathologist to determine how far the tumor has spread.


A pneumenectomy is an operation used to treat lung cancer where the entire lung is removed.  After the operation, the patient is able to use the remaining lung to breathe.  A pneumonectomy may be required if there is extensive involvement of the lung with cancer.


A lobectomy is an operation used to treat lung cancer where one of the lung lobes is removed.  A lobectomy us used when there is cancer that is localized to one lung lobe, and a pneumonectomy may be required if there is extensive involvement of the lung with cancer.

Wedge Resection

A wedge resection is an operation used to treat lung cancer where a small, wedge-shaped portion of the lung is removed.  A wedge resection may be performed with minimally invasive lung surgery techniques known as video assisted thoracic surgery.

If you have any questions regarding a lung biopsy, please contact us to set up a consultation with one of our lung surgeons.

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