Anesthesia is given at the start of the lung lobectomy procedure. Once it takes effect, you will have a catheter placed into your bladder and another tube placed down your throat into your stomach. Then your ribs will be spread and held open, and the surgeon will remove the lobe from the rest of the lung. Some lymph nodes may also be removed to be examined for lung cancer cells. Following a lung lobectomy, it is common for air and fluid to leak from your lung until it is healed.
After the anesthesia starts working (see Anesthesia for Lobectomy), you will be turned onto your side. This makes it easier for your surgeon to reach the area of your ribcage where the incision, or cut, will be made. This area is washed with a special disinfectant solution, and might also be shaved. A catheter, which is a plastic tube, will be put into your bladder. Another tube will be placed down your throat and into your stomach.
The surgeon will make an incision, or cut, on your side, which will start between two of your ribs, and go around to your back. Your ribs will be spread and held open, and part of one rib may be removed to make it easier for the surgeon to reach your lung.
After locating the tumor, your surgeon will cut the veins, arteries, and bronchial tube to that area and remove the lobe from the rest of the lung. Afterward, the blood vessels and bronchial tube will be carefully stapled or sewn closed so that they can heal.
The lymph nodes in the tissues surrounding the lung may also be taken out and tested for lung cancer cells. After the lobe has been taken out, your doctor will check inside your chest for bleeding in and around the lungs.
It's also possible that your surgeon may need to take out your entire lung, rather than just a lobe. This might happen, for example, if the tumor is larger than your tests showed. It might also happen if the blood or oxygen supply to the remaining lobes is too low for them to stay healthy.