How are pulmonary nodules treated?

If the pulmonary nodule is benign, it usually does not require treatment. If an active infection is found or a disease of inflammation in the body is diagnosed, the treatment would be based on the condition identified and the symptoms that are present.

If the nodule is malignant, there does not appear to be any spread of the cancer, and the patient is fit, then the cancer should be surgically removed. If a non-surgical biopsy of a nodule with high concern for malignancy is done and the results are inconclusive, it is recommended that the nodule be taken out.

Surgical techniques to take out pulmonary nodules include:

  • Thoracotomy: This procedure is considered open lung surgery. A cut is made in the wall of the chest in order to remove pieces of diseased lung tissue. Patients usually have to remain in the hospital for a few days after the operation. The mortality risk is low. When possible, a mini-thoracotomy that is less invasive may be performed
  • Video-Assisted Thoracoscopy: This procedure uses a thorascope, a flexible tube with a miniature camera on its end. The thorascope is inserted through a small cut into the chest wall. The camera allows the surgeon to view an image of the nodule on a television screen. This technique requires a smaller cut and a shorter recovery time than a thoracotomy does

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/25/2016.

References

  • Radiology. The Solitary Pulmonary Nodule Helen T. Wine-Muram, MD. Accessed 4/21/2016.
  • David Ost, MD, Alan M. Fein, MD, and Steven H. Feinsilver, MD. The Solitary Pulmonary Nodule. N Engl J Med 2003; 348:2535-2542. Accessed 4/21/2016.
  • National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. What Is Sarcoidosis? Accessed 4/21/2016.
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis. Accessed 4/21/2016.

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