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Thoracic Surgery

Wedge Resection

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A wedge resection is the surgical removal of a wedge-shaped portion of lung tissue, often in order to remove a tumor.

The Surgery

A thoracotomy, or incision into the chest wall, is used to gain access to the lung. The incision may be made under the arm, through the breastbone, slanting from the back to the side, or under the breast. Muscle layers are cut, and a rib may be removed to gain access to the cavity. Retractors hold the ribs apart, exposing the lung. In some cases, the physician is able to make the incision between ribs to minimize cuts through bone, nerves, and muscle. The incision may range from just under 5 inches to 10 inches.

During the surgery, a tube is passed through the trachea. It usually has a branch to each lung. One lung is deflated for examination and surgery, while the other one is inflated with the assistance of a ventilator.

The surgeon removes the lung tissue in question. Once the wedge resection is completed, the cut rib, if that was required, is replaced and held in place with special materials, and the layers of skin, muscle, and other tissues are closed with stitches or staples. If the breastbone was cut, it is stitched back together with wire.

For important information on the risks of and preparation for thoracic surgery, please see Before Thoracic Surgery.

For post-operative information, please see After Thoracic Surgery.

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