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Thoracotomy completed


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I finally had a open Thoracotomy on February 18th where my surgeon removed my right upper and middle lobe. I was doing great in the hospital( because my pain was under control with all the medications I was being given ) but that didn’t last after I came home from the hospital 7 days later. Upon release, I was only prescribed 11 Gabopentin pills to take twice a day and 30 Percocet to take every 4 hours. That lasted me about 6 days and then I had to call my doctor for refills. He only renewed the Percocet, not the Gabopentin, so when I saw my PCP yesterday he offered to call in the Gabopentin prescription to my pharmacy too for nerve pain. Now Im waiting to get my medication delivered tomorrow because I don’t have a car to get to the pharmacy to pick them up. 
I’m able to care for myself in my home ,without a problem, but I have a great deal of pain. I feel like I’m wearing a super tight fitting bra that is rubbing against raw skin when I move. I’m hoping this goes away when I get the nerve pain medication tomorrow because the Percocet doesn’t work by itself for me. Now I’m wondering how long this pain will last..days, weeks, months??? If the medications I being given don’t work, what are my other options? Tomorrow I see my surgeon’s assistant to get my stitches removed. Hopefully he can answer my questions while my doctor is performing surgeries.

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Glad you finally got your surgery, Rose!

Pain, and when/how it will be relieved, seems very individual. With an open surgery, I think it takes a bit longer than with the VATS, which I had. Your surgery wasn't that long ago, so I don't think it's unusual to still be needing pain meds. Hopefully you'll get some relief, soon. One thing that seems to help almost everybody is getting moving as soon as your doctors OK it and as you feel up to it. 

Is there any adjuvant treatment planned? Chemo, etc?

Keep us posted!

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Unfortunately, I happen to have a lot of first hand experience with post thoracotomy pain. It still plagues me as a chronic condition but that is because I had not just one surgery but three. I completely understand the description of pain save for the tight fitting bra analogy! I do hope your pain is a temporary condition.

I use lidocaine transdermal patches (the prescription variety). Two are sufficient to cover most of my incision scars and we use tape to ensure they stay adhered to my body. They often provide enough relief to allow me to sleep.

Gabopentin, Lyrica, oxycontin, and percocet have all been tried and found wanting. When I have an abdominal cramp that spikes my incision pain, I take two Tramadol in combination with the patches, that sometimes allows me to sleep. Here is something I wrote years ago for dealing with my pain. With summer approaching, you might find emersion in a pool very helpful.

I'd ask for a lidocaine patch script with plenty of renewals and try tramadol also. Hope this helps.

Stay the course.


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I'm happy you had your surgery and sorry you're having pain issues.  I can tell you that one thing my doctor recommended after my surgery (RATS) was a combination of ibuprofen and tylenol...it worked surprisingly well.  Of course I still needed the Gabapentin for nerve pain and even today that pain has been reduced to an itching and slightly numb feeling.  I hope you feel relief soon and as you heal more of the pain should reduce on its own.  Tom has a great idea with the Lidocaine patch.


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