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A pneumonectomy is a type of surgery to remove one of your lungs because of cancer, trauma, or some other condition.

You have two lungs: a right lung and a left lung. These lungs connect to your mouth through a series of tubes. Through these tubes, the lungs bring oxygen into the body and remove carbon dioxide from the body. Oxygen is necessary for all functions of your body. Carbon dioxide is a waste product that the body needs to get rid of. Most people can get by with only one lung instead of two, if needed. Usually, one lung can provide enough oxygen and remove enough carbon dioxide, unless the other lung is damaged. During a pneumonectomy, the surgeon makes a cut (incision) on the side of your body. The surgeon cuts some muscle and spreads the ribs apart. He or she surgically removes the affected lung. The sac that contained the lung (pleural space) fills up with air. Eventually, fluid takes the place of this air. In rare cases, healthcare providers may do a pneumonectomy with a VATS procedure instead. This procedure uses a special video camera called a thoracoscope. It is a type of minimally invasive surgery. That means it uses smaller incisions than the traditional open surgery done on the lung. In cancer treatment, most pneumonectomy experts recommend VATS only for people with early-stage tumors that are near the outside of the lung. This complex procedure requires a surgeon with a great deal of technical skill and experience. Why might I need a pneumonectomy? Lung cancer is the most common reason for a pneumonectomy. Healthcare providers usually try to remove as little as possible of the lung tissue. You might need a pneumonectomy if a smaller surgery would not be able to remove all the cancer. Some cancers located near the center of the lung also need a pneumonectomy instead of a smaller surgery.

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