The lungs are responsible for providing oxygen to the human body and all its organs. In order to achieve this, blood is pumped from the right ventricle into the lungs and saturates the capillaries with oxygen throughout the passage. The gas exchange process takes place in the individual pulmonary alveoli (air sacs), where the blood absorbs oxygen and simultaneously exhales waste products (e.g., CO2). Due to their large contact surface with the external world, the lungs also perform an important immunological function. This external contact makes them vulnerable to a wide range of diseases, especially infections, allergies and tumours.
Operations on the lungs are usually necessary when they are affected by tumours or serious infections. Diagnostic procedures carried out within the scope of screening procedures in high-risk patients (smokers) to clarify results and nodules (early stages of cancer) are becoming increasingly important.
Surgery for lung cancer
If, based on the results of PET or CT scans, the lung cancer is determined to be operable, a lobe or an entire lung, including the anatomically relevant lymph nodes, is removed and examined further. Such procedures may be minimally invasive (thoracoscopy/video-assisted surgery) or performed as conventional open surgery.
Further treatment (radiation or chemotherapy) may be necessary depending on the type of cancer, especially if the lymph nodes are also affected. Lung cancer surgeries are routine interventions and complications are correspondingly rare. The hospital stay is usually about a week.
Surgery for benign lung tumours
As a rule, benign tumours can be treated thoracoscopically. The growths can be removed easily using a retriever pouch, without opening the chest cavity. The hospital stay is usually only a few days.
Operations for pulmonary emphysema
If the lungs have been severely damaged by toxic substances, particularly cigarette smoke, there may be over-inflation of the individual alveoli. This, in turn, displaces normal lung tissue, limiting the performance of the lung considerably. Removing the inflated areas improves lung function. The procedure is called surgical volume resection and serves to remove the over-inflated areas. It is also carried out thoroscopically, and the hospital stay is usually less than a week.