What is a pleurectomy?
Lungs are surrounded by a thin lining called pleural membrane (pleura). Pleura help lungs move with ease during respiration. A pleurectomy is a surgical procedure that is done to remove part of the pleura. Pleurectomy is indicated for an individual who has recurrent lung diseases or infections.
Why and how is a pleurectomy performed?
There are a few different reasons why a doctor may recommend a pleurectomy which include:
- Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is cancer-related to asbestos exposure. This can arise from the pleural linings (pleural mesothelioma) as well as the thin linings that cover the heart and abdomen. The most common indication for a pleurectomy is to treat malignant mesothelioma (aggressive cancer which can spread). When a pleurectomy is used to treat mesothelioma, it is often combined with a procedure called decortication (pleurectomy decortication). This procedure involves not only the removal of the pleura but also of any adjacent tumor that may be present in the chest cavity.
- Recurrent pleural effusions: A pleurectomy may also be done for people who have persistent or recurrent pleural effusions (excess fluid accumulates in the space between the lungs and the chest cavity). Sometimes, a pleural effusion spread to several separate areas in the lungs. The build-up of fluid can then be prevented by removing the pleura altogether.
- Malignant pleural effusions: Malignant pleural effusions are the pleural effusions that contain cancer cells. They may arise from primary lung cancer or due to metastases from other cancers such as breast cancer. Although the treatment of malignant pleural effusions is most often palliative (the procedure is done to improve quality of life but not to cure a disease), controlling the build-up of fluid can often improve shortness of breath and decrease pain.
- Recurrent pneumothorax (accumulation of air in the lungs): For people who have had two or more collapsed lungs, a pleurectomy may be done to prevent another recurrence.? Removing the linings of the lungs (the pleura) leaves no space where air can accumulate.
A pleurectomy is usually done under general anesthesia in the operating room. During the procedure, an incision is made along the back and parallel to the lungs (thoracotomy). After gaining access to the chest, the surgeon then carefully peels away and removes the layers of pleura. Additional tissue may be removed if the doctor is operating for mesothelioma. Before the incision is closed, drainage tubes are placed which will be removed later on when the bleeding and discharge are small. The incision is then closed, often with sutures that will dissolve on their own. The procedure is usually completed within four hours.
What are the risks involved in pleurectomy?
As with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks and complications. Risks of pleurectomy include:
- Anesthesia-related headache, nausea, and drowsiness
- Damage to the lungs and other organs in the chest cavity
- Persistent air leak (sometimes it can be difficult to remove a chest tube following a pleurectomy due to a persistent air leak)
- Recurrence of pleural effusion or pneumothorax due to include inadequate removal of pleural tissue
- Scar tissue (adhesions) may develop in the chest and chronic pain may occur in some people
What is the outcome of pleurectomy?
Respiratory therapy is usually involved throughout the recovery period, helping people to breathe deeply and get out of bed quickly to lower their risk of pneumonia, blood clots, and other complications. Pulmonary rehabilitation may be recommended down the line as well to improve breathing. A pleurectomy is a surgical procedure that carries risks, but can sometimes greatly improve quality of life for people living with mesothelioma or a malignant pleural effusion. For those who have been coping with a recurrent collapsed lung or recurrent pleural effusions, a pleurectomy can sometimes resolve the problem completely.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Is a Pleurectomy? Related Articles
Respiratory Illnesses: 13 Types of Lung InfectionsIs your cough caused by a cold, flu, pneumonia or something else? Learn causes of respiratory infection like bronchitis, pneumonia, SARS, Coronavirus COVID-19 bird flu, and more.
COPD Lung SymptomsCOPD is a pulmonary disorder caused by obstructions in the airways of the lungs leading to breathing problems. Learn about COPD symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.
EmphysemaEmphysema is a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) that often occurs with other obstructive pulmonary problems and chronic bronchitis. Causes of emphysema include chronic cigarette smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, and in the underdeveloped parts of the world. Symptoms of emphysema include chronic cough, chest discomfort, breathlessness, and wheezing. Treatments include medication and lifestyle changes.
How Serious Is a Blood Clot in the Lungs?A blood clot is a solid or semisolid clump of blood. When the tissues of our body are injured, excessive blood loss is prevented by the clotting of blood. When a blood clot occurs inside the blood vessels it may lead to serious medical conditions. When a blood clot occurs inside the arteries to the lungs, the condition is called pulmonary embolism (PE).
Interstitial Lung Disease (Interstitial Pneumonia)Interstitial lung disease refers to a variety of diseased that thicken the tissue between the lungs' air sacks. Symptoms of interstitial lung disease include shortness of breath, cough, and vascular problems, and their treatment depends on the underlying cause of the tissue thickening. Causes include viruses, bacteria, tobacco smoke, environmental factors, cancer, and heart or kidney failure.
Lung CancerLung cancer kills more men and women than any other form of cancer. Eight out of 10 lung cancers are due to tobacco smoke. Lung cancers are classified as either small-cell or non-small-cell lung cancers.
Reasons You're Short of BreathHave you ever found yourself gasping for air after just a short flight of stairs? You may just need to do a bit more exercise, or it could be something more serious.
Lung AnatomyThe lungs are primarily responsible for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the air we breathe and the blood. Eliminating carbon dioxide from the blood is important, because as it builds up in the blood, headaches, drowsiness, coma, and eventually death may occur. The air we breathe in (inhalation) is warmed, humidified, and cleaned by the nose and the lungs.
Lungs PictureThe lungs are a pair of spongy, air-filled organs located on either side of the chest (thorax). See a picture of the Lungs and learn more about the health topic.
Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Lung Disease (NTM, Symptoms, Treatment, Side Effects)
Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), most commonly, M. avium complex or MAC, is a mycobacteria that causes lung infections and disease. Nontuberculous mycobacteria are commonly found in soil, air, and water. Examples of how NTM lung infection are transmitted include swimming, using a hot tub (NTM bacteria are aerosolized), or playing with or handling soil.
The most common symptoms of NTM lung infection are chronic, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Sometimes the cough may have mucous or blood. Other symptoms of NTM lung disease include fatigue, chest pain, malaise, and weakness. As NTM lung disease progresses, fevers, night sweats, and appetite loss may occur. Treatment guidelines for NTM lung disease depend upon the type and extent of the infection, and the person's health.
Pleural Effusion (Fluid in the Pleural Space)Pleural effusion is a buildup of fluid in the chest or on the lungs. There are two types of pleural effusion, transudate and exudate. Causes of transudate pleural effusion include congestive heart failure, kidney failure, and cirrhosis. Exudate pleural effusion can be caused by malignancy (cancer) or lung infection. Typically, transudate pleural effusion is more easily treatable. Symptoms of pleural effusion include chest pain, pain when breathing, difficulty breathing, and cough. Treatment depends on the source or cause of the pleural effusion.
Collapsed Lung (Pneumothorax)A pneumothorax is free air in the chest outside the lung, that causes the lung to collapse (collapsed lung). There are two types of pneumothorax, spontaneous or primary pneumothorax and secondary pneumothorax. Symptoms include sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, cough, and fatigue.
Pulmonary Embolism (Blood Clot in the Lung)A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a piece of a blood clot from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) breaks off and travels to an artery in the lung where it blocks the artery and damages the lung. The most common symptoms of a pulmonary embolism are shortness of breath, chest pain, and a rapid heart rate. Causes of pulmonary embolism include prolonged immobilization, certain medications, smoking, cancer, pregnancy, and surgery. Pulmonary embolism can cause death if not treated promptly.
Smoker's Lung: Pathology Photo EssaySmoker's lung photo essay is a collection of pictures and microscopic slides of lung disease caused by cigarette smoking. Smoker's lung refers to the diseases and structural abnormalities in the lung caused by cigarette smoking.
Surprising Causes of Lung DamageCarpets, fireworks, and hot tubs are some of the unexpected things that can hurt your lungs. Find out what you can do to prevent problems from these and other culprits.