Pleurectomy is a procedure in which the mesothelial lining of the lung and chest cavity is removed. Surgery is typically performed by thoracic or cardiothoracic surgeons and may involve concurrent resection of the pericardium (mesothelial lining of the heart) or the peritoneum (mesothelial lining of the abdominal cavity). Each of these internal structures performs a similar function and is composed of similar cells.
Patients may undergo pleurectomy for any number of conditions, including malignant pleural mesothelioma, pleural effusion, or trauma. Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer and relatively asymptomatic in its earlier stages.
One of the primary symptoms of mesothelioma is pleural effusion, a condition that is created when fluid excreted by mesothelial cells builds up and puts pressure on the lung and chest wall. While pleurocentesis may be used to reduce fluid buildup and relieve symptoms, often full pleurectomy is recommended to provide more sustaining patient comfort. Pleurectomy is particularly common in concert with more extensive procedures, including pneumonectomy, extrapleural pneumonectomy, and other cardiothoracic resections.
During surgery, an incision is made in the area where the disease is located. The surgeon then removes the pleura. In some cases, diseased tissue from the affected lung is also removed (pneumonectomy).
Pleurectomy is an invasive procedure that will typically require a total anesthetic. Following surgery, the surgeon will conduct a post-operative interview during which they will likely recommend deep breathing and frequent changing of bandages to prevent infection.
Author: Linda Molinari
Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer AllianceRead about Linda
Reviewer: Annette Charlevois
Patient Support CoordinatorRead about Annette