What is Partial Lung Lobectomy?
Dogs have seven lung lobes, which are divided into left and right sides. Their principle function is to provide the distribution of air and pulmonary blood flow by receiving the incoming oxygen from inspired air and then exhaling the carbon dioxide.
Dogs’ lungs can be damaged by an array of disease processes or lesions. In some of these cases, a lung lobe may need to be removed to cure or treat the animal.
Partial lung lobectomy is the surgical removal of just a portion of the lobe, since there are cases in which the entire lung lobe is removed.
Dogs can be expected to function normally with a partial removal of up to 50% of their lung volume.
A board certified veterinary surgeon is recommended to perform this procedure.
Partial Lung Lobectomy Procedure in Dogs
The preparatory steps for a partial lung lobectomy differ, depending on the cause and objective of the procedure. Usually, blood tests and chest X-rays are performed. In some cases, like tumors, advanced imaging such as a computerized tomography (CT) scan may also be needed to determine if the disease can potentially be treated with surgery.
The pet will receive a sedative and will require an intravenous catheter for the administration of fluids and medications.
General anesthesia will be used.
An endotracheal or breathing tube is placed to allow the pet to receive oxygen flow and gaseous anesthesia. Breathing will be assisted with a ventilator.
The veterinarian will also monitor vital parameters such as heart and respiratory rate, blood pressure, core body temperature, pulse oximetry (oxygenation of the blood), capnography (exhaled carbon dioxide), and electrocardiography.
Video-assisted thoracoscopic (VAT) surgery is strongly recommended because it allows the veterinary surgeon to operate within the chest cavity through minuscule incisions.
A scope with a small video camera is introduced into one of the incisions, while the rest of the instruments are inserted through separate small holes in the patient's chest wall.
Analgesics will be administered after surgery.
Efficacy of Partial Lung Lobectomy in Dogs
The efficacy of a partial lung lobectomy will greatly depend on the original cause for the surgery.
Lung lobe tumors are usually metastatic, which means cancer spread from another site of the body. Therefore, a partial lung lobectomy would only be a fraction of the whole treatment.
An alternative method of performing a partial lung lobectomy is through a thoracotomy. An incision is done on the side of the chest, behind the front leg. The incision goes between the dog's ribs, which are spread apart and will be brought back together after the partial lung lobectomy is completed. The bronchus and blood vessels are tied off with staple or suture.
A thoracotomy is riskier and has a much more painful recovery process since the ribs are spread apart.
Partial Lung Lobectomy Recovery in Dogs
After the partial lung lobectomy is completed, the dog will stay hospitalized until normal breathing can be resumed, the chest tube is removed, and pain medication can be administered orally.
Exercise should be restricted for 10 to 15 days to allow the surgery area to strengthen back to normal. Some dogs may be required to wear a bandage for one to two weeks after the surgery.
It is advised that dogs have their toenails cut short, to stop them from scratching the site during the healing process.
If the procedure was performed to remove a tumor, a microscopic examination is carried out, and if needed, chemotherapy may be recommended. Also, the veterinarian may suggest chest X-rays twice a year to check for any recurrence or spread of the tumor.
If partial lung lobectomy is done through a thoracotomy, some dogs may have trouble walking or climbing stairs for up to two weeks after surgery because the surgery site was directly behind the front leg. The dog will also show signs of swelling along the incision line for several days.
Cost of Partial Lung Lobectomy in Dogs
The main variations that influence the cost of a partial lung lobectomy are the method employed, the expertise and certifications of the surgeon, and the location of the clinic.
A video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery is more expensive than thoracotomy surgery, although the hospitalization, recovery, and medication costs are drastically lower since the procedure isn't as invasive and the patient can return home much sooner.
Overall, the total cost range of a partial lung lobectomy falls within $1,300 to $3,000.
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Dog Partial Lung Lobectomy Considerations
Anesthesia can be risky for any pet, but the risk increases in older pets whose airways are obstructed. During partial lung lobectomy, ventilators need to be used to keep the dog well oxygenated, and some fluid may pour into the airway during surgery, which may block the airflow or cause pneumonia.
If thoracotomy surgery is the method elected, owners should consider that there are additional risks.
One of them is if the bronchus or blood vessels do not seal properly, causing internal bleeding or air leakage.
Also, since pain medications are required for several days after thoracotomy surgery, the animal's lungs might not expand properly due to the pain it causes, which could provide less oxygen for the dog. This risk is even greater for brachycephalic breeds (short-headed, snub-nosed).
Partial Lung Lobectomy Prevention in Dogs
Since a partial lung lobectomy can be performed for several different conditions, precautions should be taken to avoid those conditions.
Owners should avoid food and water bowls that contain hazardous chemicals within the plastic since such substances are often linked to cancer. Ceramic or stainless steel bowls are the better choice.
To prevent pneumonia, owners should address and resolve any of the dog's predisposition conditions, such as laryngeal paralysis, pyloric outflow obstructions, or gastric reflux disorders.
It is also important to fast the dog for 12 hours before any procedure that requires general anesthesia, to prevent the animal from vomiting and aspirating any stomach contents, which can also develop pneumonia.
Owners should protect the dog from vehicle impacts because even a moderate hit can create lung lobe torsion.