Thoracotomy is a surgical procedure that allows your surgeon to evaluate and examine your lung and potentially remove a portion of it. An incision is made in the side of your chest between the ribs. This allows the surgeon to see into the chest to look at the:

  • Lining of the chest (pleura)
  • Different sections of the lung (lobes)
  • Surrounding structures (esophagus, heart, thymus and lymph nodes)

The right lung has three lobes, called the upper, middle and lower lobes. There are two lobes on the left: the upper and lower lobes.

Depending on the stage of your cancer, your surgeon may remove:

  • One lobe of a lung (lobectomy)
  • An entire lung (pneumonectomy)
  • Only one segment of a lung (segmentectomy)
  • A wedge-shaped piece of lung (wedge resection)

The type of surgery you will have depends on your condition and how well your lungs work. Your physician will describe the options and discuss the benefits and risks of each type of surgery with you.

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