Living with one lung

Living with one lung


Can we survive on just one lung?

Can losing a lung prevent life expectancy and be life threatening?

Did you know that living with one lung is possible as long as the other lung is healthy and adequate?

Read on to share some interesting facts about living with a lung.



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Living with a lung

Why is lung extraction surgery necessary?

How is pneumonectomy performed?

What happens after a lung is removed?

In what cases is a person who has a lung or has undergone pneumonectomy and discharged from the hospital required to notify the emergency services?

How many types of pneumonectomy do we have?

When is a pneumonectomy performed?

Can everyone have a pneumonectomy?

What happens after a pneumonectomy?

side effects





People who have cancer and malignancies or have other health problems that have caused the doctor to decide to remove one of their lungs can often live with a lung, in other words, it is said that having a healthy lung will be able to deliver enough oxygen to the body's cells and to adequately remove carbon dioxide from the body and keep the body healthy.

The surgery in which doctors remove a lung is called a pneumonectomy.


Living with a lung

When a person has to have surgery to remove one of his lungs, he should know that if he has a completely normal lung, he can live as before without any problems and he can still perform his duties normally.

It is said that if the capacity of your lungs reaches half of the current level, you will be able to breathe well, breathe easily and even exercise easily.

These people are more likely than others to suffer from fatigue, heart problems, and other health problems, and if you have a condition that causes your doctor to recommend a lung removal, For example, you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, Living and breathing with one lung is more difficult than other people with healthier lungs, and you may need to ask your doctor about the signs and symptoms you should look for after surgery.

But we must still say that you can continue a good life after pneumonectomy by observing the tips and being aware of the symptoms.


Why is lung extraction surgery necessary?

One of the most common reasons a doctor can remove a lung is lung cancer.

In general, malignant lung masses are a very common cause of pneumonectomies. This malignant mass can be a primary tumor of lung tissue or has spread following metastases from other tumors in other parts of the body.

Of course, not everyone with lung cancer is a candidate and will not need surgery to remove a lung.

This surgery is recommended for malignant masses and tumors that are large or have grown near the center of the lung.

Other problems that make a person a candidate for pneumonectomy include the following:

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Injuries and serious trauma to lung tissue, Congenital lung disease, Tuberculosis, Fungal infections, Fungal bronchiectasis


How is pneumonectomy performed?

When a person becomes a candidate for a lung resection, he or she undergoes general anesthesia.

The thoracic surgeon removes one side of the chest wall, which is close to the involved lung, and lifts it.

They then remove the target lung from their orbit and cut off the large blood vessels as well as the main bronchial branches, and close the end of the remaining parts well to prevent air leakage.

There is a term called extrapleural pneumonectomy, in which the surgeon removes even the pleural membrane, which is a double layer, with an inner layer on the outer surface of the lung and an outer layer on the inner surface of the chest.

Sometimes this part is filled with artificial sterile materials.


What happens after a lung is removed?

When a pneumonectomy is performed, the person undergoing surgery stays in the hospital for about a week to two weeks.

During this period, cardiac arrhythmia, respiratory function, and blood pressure are monitored regularly, and the patient is monitored for infection.

Usually, manipulations of incisions on the chest can cause a lot of pain.

After surgery, you will be prescribed a suitable analgesic. The important point is that if there is a sudden severe pain, you must inform the medical team.

Respiratory physiotherapy, called specialized breathing exercises, is something you should learn and do several times a day so that your breathing becomes healthier and stronger and the secretions of the extremities that have accumulated can get out.

You definitely need someone when you are discharged, and especially in the first few days of discharge and the recovery period at home, you need the help of at least one person, and you should not do heavy work or even lift a heavy object during this time.

One of the things that people commonly experience during this recovery period after losing one of their lungs is fatigue, and these people usually get tired very easily during this recovery period, but you should not worry because over time the ability and the strength of the remaining lungs improves, and you will see this improvement over the coming weeks and months.


In what cases is a person who has a lung or has undergone pneumonectomy and discharged from the hospital required to notify the emergency services?

If you are discharged from the hospital without complications after the end of your recovery, if you have one or more of the following symptoms, you should notify the emergency room immediately:

  • If you have an infection and manifestations such as fever, cough, swelling and pain that occurs suddenly and is very severe.
  • Progressive pains that get worse by the day.
  • Chest pain when breathing, Shortness of breath, vomiting blood and difficulty breathing

In these cases, you must call the emergency room immediately.

Let's see, for example, what are the conditions of people who have undergone pneumonectomy due to malignancies, primary tumors or secondary tumors due to metastases.


How many types of pneumonectomy do we have?

There are two main standard methods for removing a lung.

  1. Standard pneumonectomy
  2. Extrapleural pneumonectomy:

In this procedure, the lung, along with part of the diaphragm covering the membrane at the surface of the lung and the inner surface of the chest or pleura, is removed from the covering membrane outside the heart or pericardial membrane.

This method is used for tumors called mesothelioma that start from the lining around the lungs.


When is a pneumonectomy performed?

When a person has a lung tumor, the type of surgery recommended by the doctor depends on several factors.

Tumor location and size of the tumor, General health of the patient, Underlying diseases and the spread and non-spread of the tumor to nearby tissues and how your lungs function before surgery when a tumor cannot be restricted by lobectomy, a pneumonectomy is used. Large tumors or tumors located in the central part of the lung are candidates for lung resection.


Can everyone have a pneumonectomy?


This method is suitable for people who have adequate lung function before surgery and can tolerate living with one lung.

Many of the selected people will easily go on with their lives after this surgery.

Before surgery

You will be prepared for surgery. You will have several tests performed to assess your cardiovascular and respiratory function, as well as tests to prevent cancer metastasis, Bone scans to check for bone cancer, Brain scans to check for metastasis to the brain, The abdomen is tested for liver metastases and adrenal metastases to assess the function of your healthy lung, which you are about to live with, and to assess the lungs' ability to provide oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange.

Tests to determine cardiovascular health are also recommended.

Once the test results are ready, the benefits and risks of surgery will be analyzed by your doctor according to the results.

You will be told the end result that If you are taking warfarin and certain aspirin and medications, you may need to stop taking them for as long as your doctor tells you before surgery.

It is important to tell your doctor if you are taking any supplements or even herbal medicines.

If you are a smoker, it is strongly recommended that you quit smoking before surgery. There are fewer side effects in people who quit smoking before surgery.

You should fast for 8 hours before surgery.

Pneumonectomy is performed under general anesthesia in a sterile operating room. A tube is inserted through the mouth to allow a ventilator to breathe in instead of your lungs during surgery.

After surgery, the bleeding should be carefully monitored and the remaining space in your lungs filled with material.


What happens after a pneumonectomy?

You are transferred to the recovery room, you are monitored for a few hours, then you are transferred to the ICU. You stay in the ICU for a few days, and on the first day you breathe out of the body due to possible breathing problems by the device.

As long as you have a tube, you will be given certain medications to reduce anxiety and restlessness.

The important thing is that you must do respiratory physiotherapy and you must use an incentive spirometer according to the instructions of the respiratory therapist, a device that works to help keep small air sacs in the lungs open.

Gradually you can sit and with the help of trained personnel you can have a short walk.

These quick walks can help you regain your ability to reduce the risk of blood clots. Most people stay in the hospital for 6 to 10 days after a pneumonectomy.

The recovery period is such that after two months of surgery, the person can return to work, but according to the circumstances, certain restrictions are recommended by your doctor.

You should not lift heavy objects.

During the recovery period of several weeks to several months, you may have difficulty breathing and experience fatigue, which gradually improves.


side effects

Complications are usually uncommon due to preoperative examinations, and your doctor will discuss them with you before surgery if they occur.

These complications include, infection, bleeding and the need for long-term artificial respiration.

After surgery, Bronchopleural fistula form, which is an abnormal way between the respiratory tract that is cut off and the space between the pleura.

Heart problems, For example, changes in heart rhythm, strokes, deep vein thrombosis in the leg, pulmonary embolism, Problems with anesthesia and kidney problems Kidney failure, post-pneumonectomy syndrome.



After a pneumonectomy, when the operation to remove a lung is performed, a person's prognosis depends on many factors, such as:

the stage of the cancerous tumor, the gender, the type of cancer in the pathology report, Tumor and the health lung of the other lung before surgery and having no underlying disease, General health of the patient and gender.

It is said that women are more willing than men to tolerate surgery better.

Be aware that when a pneumonectomy is performed, cancer that has been removed due to pneumonectomy can sometimes recur in remote areas of the body.

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