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Lung Cancer

Thoracotomy

07/07/2008

Question:

I had the right lung lower lobe removed 3/24/08 (thoracotomy). I still have a lot of pain from the surgery, is this normal?

Answer:

After a thoracotomy, pain is common. Some of the pain involves the surgical injury to the muscles of the chest, as well as the inside of the chest—particularly the pleura. This usually resolves over a few weeks. More bothersome can be pain from the intercostal nerve that runs along the rib. It can last longer, and result in numbness or burning. Initially, the pain is typically treated with narcotic (e.g. acetaminophen/oxycodone = "Percocet") and non-narcotic (ibuprofen = "Advil" or "Motrin") agents. Pain that persists, especially if associated with injury to the intercostal nerve, may also be treated with different classes of medications. This is sometimes managed by an expert in pain treatment.

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Response by:

Michael F Reed, MD Michael F Reed, MD
Assistant Professor of Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati