A lobectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove one of the lobes of the lungs. The procedure may be performed when an abnormality has been detected in a specific part of the lung. When only the affected lobe of the lung is removed, the remaining healthy tissue is spared to maintain adequate lung function.
A lobectomy is most often performed during a surgical procedure called a thoracotomy (surgical incision of the chest). There are different kinds of thoracotomies depending on the location of surgical entry and how much lung is removed. Generally, during a lobectomy the incision is made at the level of the affected lobe. The incision is typically made on the front of the chest under the nipple line and extends around the back under the shoulder blade. The surgeon enters the chest cavity through the exposed ribs to remove the lobe.
In certain circumstances, a minimally invasive procedure called video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) is used to perform a lobectomy. Specialized surgical instruments are inserted into the chest cavity through three or four small incisions. One of the instruments, a thoracoscope, has a tiny camera and transmits the image to a TV-like monitor. The surgeon can view the internal organs on the monitor. Through the remaining incisions, other specialized instruments are inserted and used to perform the procedure. The type of procedure performed will be determined by the surgeon, based on the patient's medical condition and other factors.