Health A-Z

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What Is It?

A pneumonectomy is the surgical removal of a lung.

Pneumonectomy is usually done as a treatment for cancer. It can be done in one of two ways:

Traditional pneumonectomy Only the diseased lung is removed.

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy The diseased lung is removed, together with:

    • A portion of the membrane covering the heart (pericardium)

    • Part of the diaphragm

    • The membrane lining the chest cavity on the same side of the chest

Pneumonectomy removes half of a person's breathing capacity. For this reason, surgeons usually choose a less extreme form of lung surgery if possible.

However, a pneumonectomy is probably the best option when a tumor:

  • Is located in the middle of the lung

  • Involves a significant portion of the pulmonary artery or veins

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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