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Thoracotomy - C hest tube agony

Posts: 29
Joined: Oct 2013

Hi, can I have some advice?


I had to get a lump removed from my right lung c ause I had surgery (nephrectomy) for kidney cancer in September. First of all, the chest tube was agony.

I am out of the hospital now. I also have primary lung cancer.

The lump was very small, as I understand, I have to go back to get the right lower lobe removed.

I have to have the chest tube in again. Does anyone have any advice for me?

The narcotics made me damn near psychotic and I had a really hard time coping in the hospital. The medical staff thought I was goofy anyway.

The biggest problem I had was the chest tube. I couldn't sleep from it. Damn it, I didn't sleep for six days.

Any insight, suggestions? Please help.


Posts: 1190
Joined: Dec 2010

Did they use an epidural with you during your surgery?They used an epidural with mine, but I was still in so much pain even though I had narcotis and the epidural. Mine was a also painful because they had to cut into tissue that was already in severe pain from nerve damage from my breast cancer surgery.

What I did, was ask for extra pillows, slep with the head of the bed up, and arranged the pillows in such a way that it left an open space for my surgical side. I still used that technique when I could finally sleep in the bed at home.

There are also different types of pain medications they can use. Talk with your surgeon before your surgery.

My respirations went too low when I hit the ICU after surgery and they didn't give me ANYTHING for pain for at least a day or two. I was out of it, so I couldn't tell them what to give me, and that they could at least give me vicodin. It is kind of fuzzy.

I went in for a lung resection where they took 15% of my lower lung and I only stayed from Weds morning to Saturday morning. They stopped the chest tube pump earlier than they took it out. I think they took it out of Friday finally.

You are lucky to get to stay in the hospital so long!! Although having the chest tube in longer would suck.

Posts: 29
Joined: Oct 2013

Yes, they used an epidural and its starting to wear offnow, it's nice to be able to feel my ribs. I couldn't really do the pillow thing cause it hurt to have anything touching the incision, even with the epidural.

The narcotics made me totally goofy. I don't like that.

My posture and bone structure are not right. I'm not straight. I feel like I could straighten out though when things heal up. I want to exercize, right now, no way.

I have to go back again, and basically have the same surgery to remove the lower lobe of my lung. I can't believe it's lung cancer. I never smoked. My late husband was a heavy smoker. Well, I know now . . .

Cigarettes are evil.


Posts: 844
Joined: Mar 2011

Much will depend on the type of surgery, the location of the incision and the type of tube used.  It is quite possible also that you were allergic to the type of plastic it was made from or the type of tape or bandage they use to tape it in to keep it sterile.  When you meet with the surgeon bring these things up.  If they are doing a VATS there will be several small incisions, probably with the placement of a pleurX catheter through two of the ribs.  There is little option in placement of tubes and incisions of course because the lobectomy or wedge will dictate those. 

Ask for the paper tape rather than the latex type.  If I think of anything else I will add it on.  Hoping your next recovery is smoother.  


If you have a recliner chair sleep in it.   Otherwise Cinnamonsmiles pillows are an excellent idea. 

Posts: 29
Joined: Oct 2013

We found out that I was allergic to Dialudid. I itched like hellfire.

I already knew I was allergice to latex.

They said the tube was held in with one stitch. They taped the piss out of it. No way it was going to come out.

One of the things was the amount of adhesive scum I have on me. Tons of it. I have the right product to get it off. I will have my son get it off my back tonite.

I just don't know how I'm going to make it thru the next surgery. My kids are like "YOU WILL MAKE IT," so I am like - o.k.

Having a baby was way easier than this.



Posts: 1190
Joined: Dec 2010


I slept in my recliner for over a week and used my pillow system in the recliner as well. We had bought a new recliner months before, but never thought I would have to sleep in it becasue of another darn surgery!

I slept in the recliner so long it drove me nuts!

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2013

I had a chest tube as well, two actually, but mine didn't hurt as bad. Did they give you enough epidural? I know that they were constantly checking mine, and the only pain I had with internal when I breathed.

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