Lobectomies are a type of lung surgery where the surgeon removes a lobe of the lung. Removing a large portion of the lung may seem like an extensive treatment option, but sometimes it’s essential for the health of the patient.

A lobectomy is a generally safe procedure that treats more serious forms of different lung diseases. Learn more about the reasons why a lobectomy might be needed and how this treatment helps to treat each lung problem.

Cancer

One of the most common reasons to remove a portion of the lung is to treat or assist in treating certain types of lung cancer. Small-cell lung cancers are very aggressive, so sometimes surgery is not an option, but non-small-cell lung cancer is often treated with a lobectomy.

The best success rate for cancer treatment with lung lobe removal surgery occurs when the cancer is caught early. This cancer can spread from the lungs to the rest of the body, and if it is too far advanced in the lungs with several affected lobes, removing one lobe of the lung is no longer an option because it won’t stop the spread of the disease.

Abscess

The presence of a foreign body in the lungs sometimes causes infection. Other causes of infection in the lungs, including pneumonia, can lead to the formation of an abscess. An abscess forms when infection lingers, and as it forms, the infection begins to attack healthy tissue.

Sometimes, abscesses can be drained and treated with antibiotics without needing any additional surgery. However, if the abscess has started to cause widespread infection in the lungs, a patient might need a lobectomy or a partial lobectomy to remove the abscess and the affected tissue.

Emphysema

Emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is a disease characterized by progressive damage to the lung tissue. The alveoli in the lungs get progressive damage as the tissue thins, and you suffer increased breathing difficulty and reduced blood oxygenation as a result of this condition.

There is no cure for COPD, but it can be managed with medications and some surgeries, and lobectomy is one of those surgeries. This type of lobectomy is called lung volume reduction surgery, which helps with emphysema. The surgeon removes about a third of the most damaged lung tissue, which helps someone breathe more easily while easing the stress on the diaphragm.

In order to be a good candidate for lung volume reduction surgery, the patient must have good enough health to undergo the procedure and cannot be a current smoker. Since emphysema is usually caused by smoking, some patients are barred from surgical treatment options because they haven’t stopped using cigarettes.

Other Tumors

People can also develop non-cancerous tumors. These benign tumors are not a malignant threat to the body because they won’t metastasize as cancerous tumors do. However they still cause issues when they form in the lungs because they can restrict lung expansion and place pressure on essential blood vessels that supply oxygen to your lung tissues.

Sometimes, these tumors cannot be removed without also removing some lung tissue. Lobectomy is then the only option, but if you are reasonably healthy, you should fully recover from the loss.

Damage from Infection

Your lungs can become damaged by different types of infection. Abscesses, as discussed above, are only one type of infectious complication. You might also, for example, have fungal deposits in the lungs from a fungal infection. These can cause permanent damage to the lungs, and removing them with the affected lobe of the lung might be the only option for treatment.

Tuberculosis

Another reason why you might need a lobectomy is tuberculosis. TB is not common in the United States anymore, but people who travel abroad or who are exposed to TB from someone who is infected can still contract the disease.

TB is an infection caused by an airborne bacteria, but people don’t normally contract TB when they have a healthy immune system. The bacteria can be latent in the body, causing no symptoms. People with latent TB are not contagious, but they can contract the disease later as their immune system weakens because of illness or age.

Usually, TB can be treated with drugs, but some strains of tuberculosis are resistant to drug treatment, so surgical resection and chemotherapy can be used together to help provide the right course of treatment.

More common strains of TB damage healthy lung tissue if they are not fully treated. The damage to the lungs is permanent, and sometimes a lobectomy helps rectify some of the damage and make it easier for an affected patient to breathe.

For more information on lung surgery for cancer or lung complaints, contact us at The Surgical Clinic. We will walk you through the possible solutions and advise you on whether a lobectomy is right for you.

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