Thoracic Surgeries to Free Your Lungs

A decortication is a surgical process usually carried out for mesothelioma or possibly a small amount of other problems. It is frequently performed as part of a pleurectomy and decortication (P&D).


When the problem is a new layer of scarlike tissue or tumors are the problem rather than the pleural peel itself the surgery is called a decortication.  When performing a decortication of the lung the patient is under general anesthesia and the chest cavity is entered through slits in the sides of the chest. Once thickened, scarred, or inflamed areas of the mesothelium (the lining around your organs) are found they are removed through those same incisions. When finished your chest will be closed and you will be brought out of your sleep. This is major surgery, it is invasive and you will need several days of monitoring in a hospital to establish that you are healing as you should.


When the pleural lining is severely impaired a pleurectomy is the most effective treatment. The lungs need to be in a position to move freely against the bodily organs and the interior of the chest wall when you breathe. Thus there is a little space called the pleurum covered with slick tissue referred to as the pleural lining. However, these are problems where this system ceases working as it should. These ailments allow disease to grow in the space around the lungs and keep the respiratory system from filling with oxygen. The surgery to remove the lining around the lungs is known as a pleurectomy.

When either the pleural lining becomes diseased or fibers develop around the lungs they will be less and less free to inflate if their lining continues to thicken. Shortness of breathe and other problems will follow. Freeing the lung helps relieve the shortness of breath that can be such a frightening experience. 

After Surgery

If malignant cells are found during the surgery the next step will be to treat with an appropriate cancer therapy. The post surgical recovery plans are patient specific. Generally mesothelioma patients (who frequently need decortication) undergoing decortication recover in a month or six weeks’ time. That estimate can be complicated if you have ongoing disease or other factors complicating your recovery. In cases where the spread of the disease has begun recovery is more difficult. The chemo or radiation therapy will continue after surgical recovery for as long as your doctor deems necessary.

Undergoing a major surgery such as a p & d is not without risk. Both procedures get rid of functional tissue from your chest and, though they require smaller incisions than they previously did, they take a toll upon the body. Even after returning home, complications may arise and it is important to let your doctor know about any new developments. Following the physical therapy that your doctor recommends is an important part of your recovery and can prevent many complications.


It not at all abnormal to become nervous prior to any medical procedure, especially one as intimidating as a pleurectomy or a decortication. Nonetheless the outcome today are much more likely to be positive than ever before. Your forthcoming surgical treatment can get rid of much of your pain and keep you far better than you might have hoped.


decortication, pleurectomy, mesothelium, medical issues, lungs, mesothelioma, pleura,