Lung Cancer Home > Lobectomy Complications

Like any surgery, a lobectomy can have complications. Lobectomy complications can be minor (such as bruising, minor infections, or nausea), or more serious (like a persistent air leak or nerve injury). It's important to know about and understand these and other possible complications so that you are well informed before your procedure.

An Introduction to Lobectomy Complications

No surgery is completely free of risks. However, lobectomy has been done for many years with good results and few complications or problems.
We will now talk about some of the minor and major lobectomy complications that can happen during and after this surgery. This article doesn't cover all of the risks related to anesthesia. Your anesthesia care team can talk with you about these specific risks.

Minor Lobectomy Complications

Minor lobectomy complications can include:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Minor infections
  • Minor bleeding or bruising
  • Abnormal or painful scar formation
  • Allergic skin reaction to tape, dressings, or latex
  • Skin numbness.
In most cases, minor problems are temporary, and your healthcare provider can take care of them easily.

Major Lobectomy Complications

There are some major lobectomy complications that can happen during or after the surgery, though they don't happen very often. Your overall health may play a role in whether or not some of these problems do happen, and how well your body heals afterwards. People who are more likely to have lobectomy complications include those with:
The risk is also higher in people who:
  • Are overweight
  • Use tobacco products
  • Have had other surgeries in this area.
Many types of problems can happen during and after surgery, and we can't list all of them here. The most common or potentially serious lobectomy complications that can happen are:
  • A persistent air leak
  • A bronchopleural fistula
  • An irregular heart rhythm
  • Nerve injury.
Major Lobectomy Complications: Lung Problems
Some of the major lung problems that can occur include:
  • Lobar torsion, which is when a lobe of the lung gets twisted and collapses
  • Partial or complete lung collapse from air or blood in the chest cavity
  • Lung failure.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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