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Discharge Instructions for Pneumonectomy

You had a procedure called pneumonectomy, which is the surgical removal of a lung. This procedure is performed to treat a lung tumor or infection. Here's what you need to know about home care following surgery.

Incision Care

  • Leave the small white strips over your incision in place for 7 to 10 days after your surgery. If they fall off sooner, that is OK.

  • Always keep your incision clean and dry.

  • Shower as needed. Wash your incision gently with mild soap and warm water and pat dry. Do not scrub the incision.

  • You do not need to apply any creams, lotions, or ointments, even if they contain antibiotics, on your incision unless instructed by your doctor


  • Don’t worry if you are fatigued. Fatigue and weakness normally last a few weeks after pneumonectomy.

  • Rest when you are tired.

  • Listen to your body. If an activity causes pain, stop.

  • Limit your activity to short walks. Gradually increase your pace and distance as you feel able.

  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as mowing the lawn, vacuuming, or playing sports.

  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for 4 to 6 weeks.

  • Avoid sitting with your legs down or crossed for long periods of time.

  • Lie on the side of your surgery, with your remaining lung up (toward the ceiling).

  • Don’t drive until you are off your pain medications and free of pain. This may take 2 to 4 weeks.

  • Do not smoke and try to avoid being around people who do.

Other Home Care

  • Learn to check your own pulse. Keep a record of your results. Ask your doctor which pulse rates mean that you need medical attention.

  • Check your temperature every day for 1 week after your surgery.

  • Use your incentive spirometer at least 5 times a day for the first 2 weeks you are home. You can use it more if you want to. If you can not get it up as high as you could previously, let your doctor know.

  • Return to your diet as you feel able. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

  • Keep in mind that the pain medications that you are given after surgery, as well as prescribed iron supplements, might cause constipation.

    • Use laxatives, stool softeners, or enemas as directed by your doctor.

    • Eat more high-fiber foods.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever above 101°F

  • Brown or bloody sputum

  • Drainage from your incision

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Increased pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • New or unusual swelling in one or both legs

  • Sensation that your heart is racing

  • Irregular, quick, or abnormal heart rhythm

Note: Call 911 if you are coughing up large amounts of brownish or bloody sputum or are in any distress. Lie on the side of your operation with your remaining lung up while you wait for help.


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