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Lung capacity post surgery


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My husband's pulmonary function test was 98% prior to sugery, even with copd. He just went today for the same pft and he is so discouraged that his capacity is down to 71%. As you can imagine, he is short of breath frequently. He is supposed to begin pulmonary rehabilitation in 2 weeks.

Are there any others here that had their pft drop significantly after surgery and how long did it take to regain your breathing capacity?


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My mom is a bit older than your husband (64 y/o) and also had severe COPD prior to getting lung cancer and having a lower right lobectomy in March 06. Prior to surgery, she was able to do almost anything (except hills and steps) without getting out of breath, and never used oxygen.

After surgery, her biggest obstacle has been and continues to be shortness of breath (SOB). She was very discouraged for months and suffered with severe SOB upon the slightest exersion, even after pulmonary rehab and doing stuff at home (arm and leg exercises, stationary bike, etc).

But she kept working hard and tried to stay as positive as she could, and now 7 months post-surgery, the SOB of breath has gotten much better, it's still there but not as debilitating.

With your husband's age, I am sure he will get better!! It might take a little time, or a few months, but tell him to stay positive, and do as much as he physically can by himself to get stronger, etc.

I wish him the best!

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Hi Mendy:

There is no denying that it is discouraging. I miss my lung very much. I lost it after 2 operations, one lobe at a time. I think I got a little bit of capacity back after my first operation. Then after my second operation, I was at 51%. I recently had my capacity tested again and it is now at 46%. This was after radiation and chemo on my 3rd cancer in my remaining lung. I know I came out pretty good in terms of saving my good lung tissue, but it is still discouraging to lose any. My pulmonologist thought it was no big deal. He says it is possible for capacity to come back if I exercise. He says that some alveoli that never opened up the entire way or worked very hard, can take up the slack for those that have been destroyed.

But, I can walk a mile at a fast clip on flat ground and not get out of breath. I can speak complete sentences without having to take a breath. I don’t need oxygen.

I can split wood, work in the garden, mow the lawn run the tiller and do most stuff others do, but I have to stop to catch my breath from time to time. I can’t walk uphill on trails without stopping a lot to catch my breath.

I expect I will get some back if I stay with it and exercise. I do something aerobic every day. I walk a mile every day. Exercise is the key (and not getting cancer any more).

Don M

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