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Lung (Thoracic) Surgery Procedures

Surgeons at Providence St. Peter Hospital perform a full range of surgeries to treat patients with lung diseases, including lung cancer:

  • Wedge Resection
  • Lobectomy
  • VATS Lobectomy
  • Pleurodesis
  • Surgery for Thymomas and Other Thymic Cancers

Wedge Resection

Wedge resection is a type of surgery used when lung cancer is confined to one section of the lung. It removes the cancerous tissue, along with a small portion of surrounding normal tissue. It is typically performed thorascopically (minimally invasively) using a tube called a thorascope.


When cancer is more widespread within one of the lobes of lungs (the right lung has three lobes and the left lung two), lobectomy surgery may be performed. It removes the whole lobe, with the goal of getting rid of all cancer cells. It is the most commonly performed surgery for lung cancer.

VATS Lobectomy

Video assisted thorascopic surgery (VATS) lobectomy is a minimally invasive lung surgery that differs from a standard lobectomy in several ways. With VATS, surgeons make smaller incisions – typically 1-3 inches in length versus 6-8 inches. They then thread a tiny video camera (called a thorascope) through one of the incisions. The camera allows them to view the lung on a flat screen monitor as well as maneuver surgical instruments.

VATS typically results in reduced pain, a faster recovery and fewer complication rates than a traditional lobectomy. Approximately 70 percent of lobectomy patients could be treated with the minimally invasive VATS procedure. For the other 30 percent, a traditional lobectomy is still the best option due to issues such as the size or location of the tumor. Learn more about VATS lobectomy at Providence St. Peter Hospital.


This procedure is often used with cancer patients, when fluid has built-up in the membranes around the lung. This build-up of fluid is called pleural effusion. It prevents the lungs from fully expanding within the chest. Treatment typcially involves placing a tube (thorascope) in the chest, then inserting a special powder that attaches to the tissues lining the lungs. The powder causes the tissues to stick together so there is no space for fluid to accumulate, allowing the lungs to move and expand again. Pleurodesis is also used with patients whose lung has collapsed due to a hole in the lung. It allows surgeons to repair the lung thorascopically by stapling the hole.

Surgery for Thymomas and Other Thymic cancers

These types of rare cancers occur within the thymus -- a small organ located under the breastbone that is part of the lymph system. A biopsy done before or during surgery is used to diagnose the tumor, which can be either benign or cancerous. Benign thymomas can be related to the autoimmune disese, myasthenia gravis. Surgery is the most common form of treatment for these tumors, with surgeons removing all or part of tumor.