A lobectomy removes part of the lung to get rid of a cancerous tumor. During the procedure, the lymph nodes in the tissues surrounding the lung may also be taken out and tested for lung cancer cells. Most people need to stay in the hospital for about five to seven days after a lobectomy. Although your symptoms may improve after the procedure, it is important to remember that it is not a cure in all cases.
What Is a Lobectomy?
Lobectomy is a procedure that is used to take out part of the lung (called a lobe), because it has a cancerous tumor in it. It is used to relieve some or all of the lung cancer symptoms that a person is feeling. A lobectomy can keep a person's health from getting worse and it may provide the best chance for curing the disease.
Understanding the Lungs
The airway to your lungs resembles a tree that is turned upside down. When you breathe in, air passes into your throat, and then down through your trachea. The trachea branches into two smaller airways, called "bronchi," which go into each lung. They continue to branch further and further into bronchial tubes. At the end of each tube are small air sacs, called "alveoli."
Here at the alveoli, your lungs perform two major jobs. The first is to transfer oxygen, or O2, from the air that you breathe -- to your blood. The second job is to transfer carbon dioxide, or CO2, from your blood to the air you breathe out.
When you breathe in, very small particles of oxygen go into the alveoli. Blood vessels sit right next to the alveoli, and oxygen is easily transferred into the bloodstream, where it can be delivered to all of your cells.
At the cells, oxygen is released in exchange for carbon dioxide. This is a waste product that your cells are constantly making, and like most waste products, it needs to be sent out of the body somehow. So, blood transports carbon dioxide back to the lungs, where it passes through the alveoli to the air that you breathe out.
Each lung has different sections, called "lobes." The right lung has three lobes -- upper, middle, and lower; while the left lung has two -- the upper and lower.
Your lungs fit snugly inside your chest cavity. The thin space between the chest wall and the lung is called the pleural space. In order for your lungs to work well, this space can't have extra air or fluid in it. If fluid or air gets into this space, it puts pressure on the lungs. This can keep them from expanding when you try to breathe in, and make you feel short of breath.