Lung resection surgery

Adelaide Cardiothoracic > Lung Surgery > Lung resection surgery

Lung resection involves removal of part of the lung, either to remove a tumour or other abnormality, or to obtain a specimen of lung (biopsy) for diagnosis.

The most common types of resection are:

  • Wedge resection — a wedge-shaped portion of lung tissue is removed, commonly for diagnostic purposes or to remove a small nodule or tumour.
  • Lobectomy — one of the five lobes of the lungs (three on the right, two on the left) is removed, leaving the remaining lung to work as normal; this is the most common procedure performed for lung cancer, as it maximises the chance of removing not only the primary cancer but any microscopic spread that may have occurred prior to surgery.
  • Pneumonectomy – an entire lung is removed, either because more than one lobe is involved by cancer or because the cancer involves the central part of the lung where it attaches to the heart and trachea.

The removed part of the lung is sent for analysis by a pathologist, who will carefully examine it to determine what it was and whether or not removal was complete. This often takes several days.

At the same time, your surgeon will often remove one or more adjacent lymph nodes, as these may be the first place that cancers may spread to. Allowing the pathologist to examine the nodes in addition to the main resection specimen helps determine how advanced the disease may be (this is called staging).
Depending on the results of the surgery and the report from the pathologist, further treatment may be required including additional surgery, radiotherapy, and/or chemotherapy.

Diagnostic lung biopsies are usually performed for a group of conditions called interstitial lung disease, which result in scarring of the lung (pulmonary fibrosis). The biopsy helps determine the cause and may allow your doctors to decide the best possible treatment.

In very selected patients, multiple wedge resections are performed to remove areas of lung damaged by emphysema and enable the remaining lung to work better. This is termed ‘lung volume reduction surgery’ and your suitability for this needs to be carefully assessed by a multi-disciplinary team.

For more information please visit:

Cleveland Clinic VATS