If bronchiectasis has caused severe lung damage and your symptoms have become debilitating, your NYU Langone pulmonologist may recommend surgery. Doctors generally recommend surgery when damage is limited to one area of the airways, making it easier to remove through a surgical procedure. However, doctors may consider surgery even if lung damage is widespread, since it may decrease the risk of infection.
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During a lobectomy, the affected lobe—a section of lung—is removed, while the healthy parts of the lung remain intact. Most lobectomies can now be performed using video-assisted thoracic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure. The surgery requires general anesthesia.
During a video-assisted lobectomy, a surgeon makes four small incisions in the chest near the affected lung. He or she inserts a thoracoscope—a long, thin tube with a camera that provides a view of the chest cavity—into one of the incisions. The camera projects an image onto a video screen, helping to guide the surgeon during the procedure. The surgeon inserts surgical instruments through the other incisions in order to remove the lobe.
After a lobectomy, you remain in the hospital for several days. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication to alleviate any discomfort and give you supplemental oxygen until you are able to breathe on your own.
While you are in the hospital, NYU Langone pulmonary rehabilitation specialists teach you deep breathing and coughing exercises, which help to reopen your airways and strengthen your lungs after surgery.
Once you return home, your doctor may advise avoiding heavy lifting for a few weeks, as well as exposure to smoke and fumes. He or she encourages you to continue performing the breathing exercises learned during pulmonary rehabilitation.
A lung transplant may be an option for people whose symptoms are worsening despite aggressive treatment, and who are becoming more and more dependent on oxygen. During the procedure, a surgeon removes a diseased lung and replaces it with a healthy one.
If you have severe bronchiectasis, you and your doctor can discuss this option. Your doctor may refer you to a lung transplantation center in your area if it’s appropriate.
Pulmonary rehabilitation specialists at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation can help you prepare for lung transplantation and build strength after the procedure.
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