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Anyone who had VATS have complication of subcu emphysema?


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Hi All,

My mom had a right lower lobectomy via VATS on Thursday 11/10/05. She was supposed to go home in 3 days, but here it is almost a week later and she is still in ICU! Because of her extensive smoking history, her lungs are very fragile and air has leaked out into her skin rather than going through the chest tube. The next day after surgery she started getting swollen from this. She was starting to improve on Tuesday and then on Wednesday she went back to square one being severely swollen and uncomfortable. The surgeon inserted another chest tube of larger diameter. The surgeon admitted he is baffled by her persistent leak. Her leak is small, not in proportion to the amount of swelling. We are all very distressed. I feel like there is no end in sight and am very frustrated. We have not even gotten through the surgery yet and I dread what kind of uncomfortable treatments are coming in the future. Final pathology has not returned yet, so the oncologist cannot discuss treatment yet.

I want to hear from anyone who had this complication. How long did it take to resolve for you? Thank you.

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I didn't have the VATS procedure and I didn't have a leak - and I was in the hospital for nine days. I spent my first night in cardiac ICU because the doctor hurt me more than he planned on (two lobes instead of one came out).

I hope her doctors figure it out soon and she's on track for treatment!

Good luck to you both,


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My husband had "leaks" after his upper R lobectomy (not VATS). After 10 days they took him back into surgery to repair the leaks. Said his lungs were like tissue paper, had to stitch, glue and staple the leaks. However, after he had a new chest tube put in he still leaked. Finally, 5 days later the leak resolved and he was sent home. From what I underestand since you mother had VATS surgery her post operative recovery should be much easier than traditional surgery. Hopefully, her leak problem will resolve quickly and she will feel much better.

Karen H

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Thank you all for your replies and good wishes. Mom was feeling a little better on Thursday and the swelling was down a bit. Since she had started to feel better earlier in the week followed by return of swelling necessitating the 2nd chest tube, I will reserve any celebration until the swelling is all gone and she is able to have the tubes removed.

Her pathology returned with 1 node positive. The oncologist was only there briefly and said he would return in a few days to discuss details. I am interested in what her stage is. Since a node is involved, I would assume it is stage 2. He mentioned 3-4 months of chemo. Since I am in school full-time and work full-time and cannot be at the hospital that much, I have typed up a list of questions to give Mom to ask when the oncologist return.

Thanks again.

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I hope you have found reason to celebrate through decreasing in the swelling. It sounds as if she were going in the right direction.

Just want to welcome you to our group and offer us to you for a wealth of experiences. Now you will be able to offer to others, should the occasion arise, your Mom's experience regarding subcu. emphysema.

I hope this finds her feeling better and less uncomfortable.

Again, welcome. We will try to help with anything we can.

Cindi o'h

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