Approximately 1 out of every 500 chest X-rays reveals the growth of a lung nodule, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Also called a pulmonary nodule, a lung nodule is a small, round growth that appears on the surface of your lung.
In most cases, lung nodules are benign and require only observation using X-rays to check if the growth gets larger or changes over time, reports the U.S. National Library of Medicine. If a biopsy shows the nodule to be cancerous, the growth requires treatment.
Unlike other forms of cancer that may be treated with chemotherapy or radiation, nodules are usually surgically removed.
Types of Operations
The most invasive type of operation used to remove lung nodules is a thoractomy, which removes part of the lung along with the nodule. A mini-thoracotomy removes only the nodule. In a third type of surgery, video-assisted thorocoscopic surgery (VATS), the node is excised using only two tiny incisions and and a small camera.
With a VATS procedure, you are likely to be in the hospital for only one or two days; a thoractomy or mini-thoractomy usually results in a 7- to 10-day stay, according to the Thoracic Group.
Doctors prefer to use the most minimally invasive procedure to remove lung nodules, and base their decision on the size, shape and location of the growth, the University of Rochester Medical Center reports.