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Date of last update: 8/19/2017.

Forum Name: Surgery Topics

Question: Thoracotomy Complication?

 cufflink13 - Sun Dec 04, 2005 11:06 pm

Hello. My 65-yo mother underwent a thoracotomy about 5 months ago. About 1 mo after the procedure, she noticed a "swelling" which runs from below her left breast (same side as surgery) around to almost her back. The surgeon, her GP and a Gastroenterologist all said it's just tissue and muscle. A CT scan and ultrasound showed nothing abnormal. However, it seems to continue to gain in size slowly. She has no feeling in the area (known result from the thoracotomy). and lately she's having a bit more pain in her upper left size when she moves her shoulder (in the area of the surgery). The surgeon says it's not a result of the surgery but it seems too coincidental. Any idea on what could be causing this? Could some muscle/tissue that had to be cut for the surgery been injured in such a way that it needs to be repaired again? Is it something to be concerned with? The doctors don't think so but none have provided a good answer for what is going on.
Thank you
 Theresa Jones, RN - Tue Dec 06, 2005 6:26 am

User avatar Hi cufflink13,
Adverse effects of a thoracotomy may result in a small number of patients and may include chronic pain related to the disruption of nerves along the ribs of the chest wall. Development of scar tissue/adhesions may also cause an area of thickness as well as pain. Scar tissue tends to decrease after time. My question for you is what medical condition existed that warranted the thoracotomy?
Theresa Jones, RN
 cufflink13 - Tue Dec 06, 2005 8:44 pm

A chest xray showed a mass in her lung. Follow-up PET and CAT scans showed it likely not to be malignant but since she is an ex-smoker, her dr. recommended the surgery. It turned out to be histoplasmosis.
My mother does have cirrhosis (non-alcohol related) so her liver and spleen are enlarged - maybe that has something to do with it?
 Theresa Jones, RN - Wed Dec 07, 2005 5:13 am

User avatar Hi cufflink13,
The pain may not only be a result of the thoracotomy but from the splenic enlargement as well.
Theresa Jones, RN
 cufflink13 - Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:59 am

Thank you. It seems that she is more bothered by the swelling or whatever it is being uncomfortable; she does not seem to be in much pain. Have you seen patients where the cut nerves and muscles just sort of "hang loose" due to the trauma of surgery? Can anything be done about it?


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