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A thoracotomy is a surgical procedure during which a surgeon accesses the lungs and other nearby organs through an incision in the chest wall. This inpatient procedure typically requires a hospital stay of five to seven days so the patient can be continually monitored for signs of potential complications.

A thoracotomy is not a stand-alone procedure; rather, it is often the first step in a number of other surgeries, including:

  • Lobectomy – The removal of one lobe of a lung
  • Segmentectomy – The removal of a wedge-shaped piece of a lung
  • Pneumonectomy – The removal of an entire lung
  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy – The removal of a lung, the lining of the lungs and heart (the pleura) and a portion of the diaphragm

Uses for a Thoracotomy

A thoracotomy is a major surgical procedure that is typically only recommended in the most serious cases. Your doctor may recommend a thoracotomy to:

  • Remove part of your chest wall
  • Reinflate a collapsed lung
  • Repair your heart
  • Remove a blood clot, tumor or lymph node
  • Remove a cyst in your chest
  • Take out part of a lung, a growth on a lung or all of a lung

Moffitt Cancer Center’s Approach to Thoracotomy

No matter which procedure it precedes, a thoracotomy is a major operation that requires a significant amount of skill. At Moffitt Cancer Center, we perform a high volume of these surgeries each year, and our thoracic surgeons are among the most experienced in their field. This not only helps us to achieve the best possible outcomes, but – coupled with the dedicated work of our supportive care professionals – also allows us to provide each patient with the highest possible quality of life.

No referral is required to schedule a surgical consultation at Moffitt. To discuss your thoracotomy options with a surgeon who specializes in lung cancer treatment, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.