Recovery After Surgical Diagnosis of Chest, Lung Problems

After the procedure, you may need to stay in the hospital for 1–5 days. Once at home, follow your healthcare provider’s instructions carefully. And be sure to make and keep all follow-up appointments.

In the hospital

Man using incentive spirometer in hospital bed.After your procedure, you are sent to a recovery room to recover from the anesthesia. To help keep your lungs clear and prevent infection, a healthcare provider teaches you a breathing exercise called incentive spirometry. This technique helps you take deep breaths that may help reduce the risk of lung problems that can arise after chest or abdominal operations. Your provider can tell you how often to use this tool. Also, depending on your condition, a nurse or other healthcare provider helps you get up and walk soon after the procedure. This is to keep your blood moving and help prevent infection.

At home

Once at home, be sure to:

  • Avoid lifting more than 5-10 lbs.

  • Limit strenuous activity.

  • Take pain medicine as directed.

  • Return to work and drive a car only when your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

  • Continue doing incentive spirometry as often as directed

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Redness, drainage, or swelling of skin at incision sites

  • Uncontrolled or increased pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

Getting your test results

It will likely take a few days to get back your test results. Your healthcare provider will discuss the results with you in detail. Be sure to share any questions or concerns you have with your healthcare provider.

If you have lung cancer

You may be referred to one or more cancer specialists for further testing. Other procedures will likely be performed. They can help determine how far along the cancer is. This helps your healthcare provider choose the best treatment plan for you.

If you have another lung or chest problem

Your healthcare provider will discuss treatment with you. If you are given medicine, follow instructions carefully. It is important to continue to make and keep all follow-up visits so that your healthcare team is able to monitor your health.