Traditional open-chest lung cancer surgery is called a thoracotomy and lobectomy. A six-inch incision is made on the side or back of the chest and the large muscles of the chest wall and the ribs are moved out of the way. The lobe of the lung with the cancer, and surrounding lymph nodes, can then be removed.
This type of lung cancer surgery, like any other procedure, carries some risks, which are higher for patients with chronic lung disease, heart disease or kidney disease. Immediately after the operation, the risk of pneumonia is made worse by smoking, COPD or chronic bronchitis.
Recovery in hospital after lung cancer surgery
Mr Scarci has pioneered an innovative programme for enhanced recovery after thoracic surgery. This means that every single step of the care you will receive has been approved by a team of experts and is backed up by the latest medical research.
After a thoracotomy lung resection, most patients stay in the recovery unit for few hours then transfer back to the ward. For the first few days pain is managed via a patient-controlled analgesia pump. Drains, called chest tubes, are left in place for 1–2 days after surgery to remove excess air and fluid from the chest, then removed at the bedside.
The rate of recovery depends on lung function and any other related medical problems. Usually, the patient will get out of bed on the day of surgery and walk around their room. Most of Mr Scarci's patients go home after 3–4 days and are well enough to move freely and look after themselves.
After discharge we encourage our patients to keep active at home to reduce the risk of developing pneumonia or a blood clot in the leg. Both of these conditions can require readmission to hospital for a prolonged period.
We recommend walking around the house and the garden several times a day for the first week at home, then around the block or about a quarter of a mile a day in the second week. In the third week, the patient should walk up to a mile a day in total.
Driving is not allowed for three weeks, or longer if narcotic pain medicine is still needed.