Chest Wall Resection | Cardiothoracic Surgery | Loyola Medicine

Chest Wall Resection

Overview and Facts about Chest Wall Resection

The chest wall is the area surrounding your lungs. This structure is made up of fat, muscles and skin. It also includes the bones in your ribcage.

Tumors in the chest wall are rare, but they sometimes occur. If you develop a chest wall tumor, you may need surgery to remove it. This procedure is called a chest wall resection.

What to Expect with Chest Wall Resection

Before you undergo thoracic surgery, you will receive a wide range of tests. These tests determine the size and location of the tumor. Your doctor may also recommend a biopsy to find out if the tumor is cancerous. Your surgeon will use this information to plan your procedure.

Your surgery will take place at a hospital. First, your medical team gives you medication to make you sleep through the procedure. Next, the surgeon makes an incision around the ribcage. In some cases, your surgeon may remove one or more ribs.

Once the surgeon has reached the tumor, it will then be cut out. After removal, artificial materials will be used to reconstruct your chest. Your surgeon might use artificial bone or titanium to rebuild your ribcage. Soft tissue will be replaced with grafts or surgical mesh.

After surgery, you can expect to remain at the hospital for several days. Your medical team will keep you under close observation. The team may also run tests on the tissue they removed.

If your tumor is cancerous, you might need treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Your cancer care team can explain what happens once your surgery is complete.

What are the Side Effects of Chest Wall Resection?

Chest wall resection is a major surgical procedure. After surgery, some patients may experience:

  • Bleeding
  • Breathing problems
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue

These symptoms usually disappear as your body heals, but some patients may have lasting side effects. Elderly people and cancer patients are at a higher risk of breathing problems.

Your doctor can explain how to reduce your risk of side effects. Medication and lifestyle changes can help you feel better after surgery.

What are the Risks of Chest Wall Resection?

People who undergo chest wall resection may develop:

  • Blood clots
  • Pneumonia
  • Post-surgical infections

Some patients also have trouble healing after their procedure. Because cancer affects your immune system, cancer patients may be at a higher risk of post-surgical infection.

At the hospital, your medical team will keep your wounds clean. They will also explain how to avoid infection once you return home. Make sure to follow your hospital discharge instructions for wound care.