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Anesthesia

With One Lung Paralyzed

12/10/2009

Question:

With one lung paralyzed can you have postate cancer operation while being under sedation? Could there be a problem?

Answer:

The lung itself cannot be paralyzed, but the breathing muscle, the diahpragm, could be. This can occur with any cause of damage to the phrenic nerve, the nerve that controls the diaphragm. Sedation causes a decrease in breathing. The anesthesiologists normally compensates for this by giving you extra oxygen. In patients who have very bad breathing, from whatever cause, the extra oxygen by itself might not be enough to compensate. Prostate cancer operations can be rather large operations, and therefore are not usually done with sedation alone, rather with general anesthesia, or spinal or epidural anesthesia.

If you have diaphragmatic paralysis your doctors - the surgeon and anesthesiologist - should be discussing the best options with you, as well as paying special attention to your lung condition, and to getting you into the best possible condition prior to the operation.

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Response by:

Gareth S Kantor, MD Gareth S Kantor, MD
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University