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Discharge Instructions for Lobectomy of the Lung

You had a surgical procedure called an open lung or pulmonary lobectomy. This is the removal of a section or lobe of one of your lungs. The right lung has 3 lobes and the left lung has 2 lobes. An open procedure involves a large incision into the chest. It may involve the:

  • Chest wall

  • Muscles

  • Ribs

  • Membranes covering the lungs (pleura)

  • Airways (bronchi)

  • Lobes of the lungs

There are different reasons for having this surgery. The most common reason is lung cancer. It's possible to live without having all the lobes of your lungs, but your remaining lungs, your heart, and your whole body has to adjust to this change.

 

When to seek medical care

Call your health care provider, or 911 for severe symptoms, if you have:

  • Fever

  • Increased coughing or coughing up brown or bloody mucus

  • Increased redness, swelling, or pain near your incision, or drainage from your incision

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Increased pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Swelling in one or both legs

  • Feeling like your heart is beating too fast (palpitations)

Incision care

  • Make sure you and your caregiver follow all instructions for caring for your surgical site.

  • You may have a home health nurse help you change your dressing or bandage and help with your other needs. He or she will change the dressing and report any problems as instructed by your health care provider.

Activity

  • You will notice that you get tired more easily. This is normal because your lungs and your heart have to work harder. Rest when you are tired.

  • You may have been instructed to do exercises to increase the strength and movement in your arms and shoulders. These exercises are important with any surgery of the chest. Make sure you do the exercises as instructed.

  • You may also have home physical and occupational therapy. The therapists help you with daily activities, movement, and exercise. Be sure to do these as instructed.

  • Don't lift anything that is heavy.

  • Avoid sitting with your legs down or crossed for long periods of time.

  • When lying down, use a few pillows to support your knees and lower legs.

Other home care

  • You will continue to take medications to help lessen the pain. Make sure you know when you are supposed to take these medications.

  • While you are healing and taking pain medications, do not drive.

  • Keep in mind that pain medications often cause constipation.

    • Use laxatives, stool softeners, or enemas as directed by your health care provider.

    • Drink water throughout the day, unless instructed to limit fluids.

    • Eat high-fiber foods, like whole grains, and fruits and vegetables.

  • Use your incentive spirometer as instructed.

  • Return to your diet as you feel able. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

  • Having a healthy diet helps you heal. Make sure you have lean meats, low- or no-fat dairy products, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables.

  • Do not smoke and stay away from people who do. If you do smoke, talk to your health care provider about ways to quit.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment with your health care providers as directed by our staff. And, call your health care provider if you have any concerns before your appointment.

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 7/28/2014
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.