Indications for lung resection

Lung tumor

The type of resection is determined by the nature, size and location of the tumor and how much it has spread:

  • segmentectomy is used for small tumors
  • lobectomy is used if the tumor is bigger or too close to the heart
  • pneumonectomy (rare), when it is necessary to remove an entire lung to eliminate the tumor.

When the tumor is malignant, lymph nodes around the lung and heart are also removed and analyzed to establish whether the cancer has spread.

At the HUG, 80% of lung resections are minimally invasive.

Lung infection

Lung resection may be indicated when antibiotic therapy is ineffective. For example, in the following cases:

  • tuberculosis
  • repeat bacterial infections, if the bronchi are dilated (bronchiectasis)
  • fungal infection (aspergillosis). In this case, lobectomy is the most frequent resection performed.


Smoking and certain diseases can damage the lungs through the formation of bullae. This is called emphysema. If it becomes too severe, surgical resection is sometimes considered.

Inflammatory diseases of the lung

In case of inflammatory lung disease, a biopsy is indicated to clarify the diagnosis and determine the best treatment. In general, one or more wedge resections are sufficient.

Suspicious pulmonary nodule

In some cases, a needle biopsy is not feasible due to the size or location of the pulmonary nodule. A wedge resection is then indicated to determine the diagnosis. In case of a malignant tumor, the resection is enlarged (see Lung tumor).

Last update : 15/08/2019