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What is Complete Lung Lobectomy?

A lung is divided into several 'lobes', which are structures designed to help maximize the surface area of the organ (which allows the animal to get more oxygen into their bloodstream per breath) whilst also allowing maximum flexibility for expanding and contracting during the process of breathing. However, when a lung becomes too badly diseased or damaged, it may be necessary for the worst-affected lobe to be entirely removed - a process referred to as a 'lobectomy'. There are several conditions that may prompt a vet to remove a lobe of the lung, though the procedure is generally regarded as a last resort after other methods of treatment have either failed or been discounted.

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Complete Lung Lobectomy Procedure in Dogs

In preparation for the lobectomy, the vet will comprehensively map the interior of the dog's chest using x-rays and ultrasounds, to make sure they cut through the lung as precisely as possible and remove all the damaged tissue. Prior to the procedure, the dog will be placed under general anesthetic and have an area of their chest shaved and cleaned where the incision will be. The most common form of lobectomy involves making an incision on the flank of the animal between two ribs. The ribs are then moved further apart and the surgeon operates through the resulting hole. The lung is cut at the junction between the lobes and the unwanted tissue is extracted through the incision, at which point the lung is cauterized and sewn up, along with the hole in the dog's side. A chest tube may be left implanted in the dog in order to drain any fluid that builds up inside the chest.

Efficacy of Complete Lung Lobectomy in Dogs

Generally speaking, the removal of a diseased lung lobe will halt the underlying condition in its tracks. Providing that proper aftercare procedures are observed, then there should be no resurgence of infection or debilitation. Although the dog may have a slightly decreased level of cardiovascular capability, they should no longer have difficulties breathing. Whilst there are alternative treatments available for infections and cancers (antibiotics and radiotherapy, respectively) which enjoy relatively high rates of success, they will usually have failed by the time the lobectomy is recommended by the vet.

Complete Lung Lobectomy Recovery in Dogs

Following surgery, it will be necessary for the dog's owner to administer a regular dosage of painkillers and antibiotics for the duration of the healing process. In most otherwise healthy animals it will take roughly three to four weeks to recover from the surgery, though older and more infirm dogs may need longer to recuperate. The activity levels of the dog should be restricted as much as possible, as this will help lower the possibility of re-opening the incision and will conserve energy during recovery. It will be necessary to visit the vet a few weeks after the procedure in order to have the drainage tube removed from the dog's chest.

Cost of Complete Lung Lobectomy in Dogs

The price of a complete lung lobectomy for a dog can be especially high due to the intricate nature of the procedure. Most vets will charge anywhere between $2,000 and 3,000 depending on the condition and age of the dog. For this reason, many owners will opt to continue alternative treatment methods such as antibiotics (which will typically cost less than a few hundred dollars) or radiotherapy (which will often run into the high hundreds).

Dog Complete Lung Lobectomy Considerations

It will be necessary to put the dog under a general anesthetic in order to perform the operation. Due to the already compromised nature of the dog's lungs, this additional stress can sometimes prove dangerous - especially in older animals. It is also possible that the dog could pick up a new infection from the surgical wound, though maintaining a clean living environment and providing a course of antibiotics to the dog can mitigate the risk of this.

Complete Lung Lobectomy Prevention in Dogs

Many conditions that will eventually require a complete lung lobectomy to be performed are caused by the inhalation of foreign objects and particles. Fungal spores, hostile bacteria and sharp objects that gouge the lining of the lungs are all picked up as the dog goes about its daily routine. In order to lessen the chances of this happening, owners should make sure that their dog's living environment is kept as sanitary as possible. It is also advisable to closely monitor a dog's behavior when outdoors, as this provides a prime opportunity for it to accidentally inhale objects when sniffing around. Unfortunately, most cancers are difficult to predict and prevent. Although, it is possible to detect them in their early stages by taking note of changes in a dog's behavior and body language.

Complete Lung Lobectomy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Italian Greyhound
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Nothing really, just normal old dog behavior.

My dog has a solid small mass in right lung, and 2 bullae/blebs in the left that a surgeon wants to remove. These were discovered when I took him in to get 2 teeth removed which were interfering with his nasal breathing. So then he had a CT scan. He behaves ok now, except for normal old dog behavior (15 yr old Italian Greyhound)...I am afraid to proceed with this surgery..I don't want him in pain, or decline quicker, even though I guess he could improve too. He has good blood work and heart for the surgery (tests done). Should I go for this surgery? or what other treatments could we do? :( It's such a gamble.

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1818 Recommendations

I remember your first question you asked yesterday on the page linked below.
Unfortunately I cannot really give you more information than I did yesterday. Other courses of action may involve chemotherapy or radiotherapy on the mass, but first the type of mass needs to be identified to see if there is a course for therapeutic treatment or not; this would involve a lung biopsy which is traumatic in itself and would require anesthesia. For the bullae, there is always the risk that they may rupture causing a pneumothorax; it is very difficult for me to say go for the surgery or not as I haven’t examined Vinnie, it may be worth having another Veterinarian examine Vinnie to get their thoughts as my concern (as with other Veterinarians concerns) would be his age, although good blood results and heart are a good sign. There is a risk vs reward which has to be considered which your Veterinarian would have considered before recommending surgery and they believe that the surgery risk is worth the potential reward. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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