How long is oxygen needed after lobectomy?

I had a lobectomy on Oct. 15,2012. I have nsclc stage 1A no lymph nodes involved.
I was put on oxygen after the surgery in the hospital and still on it 6 weeks later. I am fine when sitting in one place, my oxygen level stays 95-99%. When I start to move around my house or exert myself in some way, my oxygen level drops into the mid 80's and my pulse rate climbs to around 100. I am on 2.5 liters.I am doing my breathing exercises every day.

Help!!!!! Please tell me your experiences on having to use oxygen after a lobectomy and for how long? I am getting frustrated with this and curious how long it will be needed and if anyone else had to have O2 for any length of time. My doc says to stay on oxygen all the time now until things "improve". I am going to start a breathing class the beginning
of the new year.

Edited November 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm

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14 replies. Join the discussion

I had the same surgery as you back in 2010. Low rt.
lobe removed. Oxygen in the hospital-not at home.
I faithfully did my breathing exercises and did not
exert myself until I felt able to do so. Have you been
checked for COPD? You may need to follow up with
a pulmonary Physician if no improvement. As your
Doctor says things may improve in time. It took approx.
3 months for finally being able to say I was well on
the road to recovery. Everyone is different. Make
sure your doing your deep breathing exercises
faithfully.
MARIA

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I totally agree with the above post. It sounds as if you need to see a pulmonologist.
I also am stage 1a & had a lobectomy, but only needed O2 while in the hospital. Prior to surgery I had pulmonary function tests which fortunately were normal, so I was expected to come through the surgery with no after-effects. Aside from a fairly lengthy recovery period of 9 weeks, I was able to return fulltime to a very active job.

Gail

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I was staged as you and had same surgery. Like the others I had oxygen occasionally in the hospital and that was it. I have COPD also but not much trouble breathing. Walk as much as you can without exerting yourself. Maybe you need to see your doctor.

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However as someone said, we are all different.

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what were your symptoms before you discovered illness

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i was staged 2b, and was never given oxygen. i do see a pulmonologist as i have evidence of mild emphysima (sp).

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Thanks for the replies so far. Very interesting.
I had no symptoms before the cancer was discovered
by accident on a CAT scan for my stomach area.The CAT was clear except for the spot on my lung.
I am going to see my thoracic surgeon for my 6 week checkup and see what he says about the oxygen. He suggested I sign up for an 8 week class at the local Rehab center on how to breath better and breathing exercises
I am really thinking I may need to see a pulmonary specialist.

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l had my right upper lobe removed three years ago this february.I was on oxygen the two weeks I was in the hospital. Doing great since then. I do have COPD.Your lungs should get better with time.

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If your pulmonary function test was normal before then it is just a matter of waiting for the remaining lung tissue to take over. I had the same surgery and diagnosis and did not go home on oxygen because my sats were good when at rest. I started my own rehab with the incentive spirometer from the hospital, abdominal breathing exercises and walking. The first day at home was only 7 steps! At 6 months now and have to give myself time to do some things but can walk slowly for 3 miles.

My dad did pulmonary rehab because his scoliosis was limiting his breathing and he was on oxygen. After the rehab he has stayed off oxygen and he is now 89! I highly recommend it.

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I had my surgery oct. 9th, 2012. I am still having to use oxygen with activity, 2L, but while I am at rest I can take it off. I too am very frustrated. I came home on 4 liters continuous so I know I am improving. I was a bad asthmatic, I don't know if that played any role in it at all. I think our lungs and body just have to adjust to the new (lesser) lung capacity. I was staged at a 2b because there were two separate tumors in the lul. there is no node involvment but the said I needed chemo. I have had my first treatment with Cisplat/alimta and have felt pretty crappy. Sugically I feel I have come along very well. I know the frustration but don't rush it....it will come in time.
Cindy

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Cindy,
Thanks for the response.At least I know I am not the only one who still has to use the oxygen. I am on 2.5 while moving about and do fine while sitting still.It is keeping me from doing many things I want to do like gardening, driving,etc. Frustrating but seeing my surgeon next week.
Have a great day.
barbee

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There isn't much you have to give up just because you are on oxygen. Gardening and driving just require a portable tank and they are getting very much lighter and compact. I know many insurance companies will rent a concentrator for home and you can fill the small one from it. My friend just carries a spare tank when she drives herself to play Bingo all day Mondays. It is inconvenient but there are wheeled carriers, backpacks and shoulder carriers.

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I was also staged at 1A with no mets and was on oxygen for only two days, but I had a partial lobectomy and pulmonary function test prior to surgery was good. The rehab sounds like an excellent idea; also getting a portable oxygen unit so you can carry with you if necessary. Getting active is very important. Let us know what your doc says. Best of luck!

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barbee, I think the big takeaway from most of the replies to your post is to not be complacent about your post-op need for O2, esp since its been 6 weeks since your surgery.
It's important to note that the one reply who said she was also on O2, also mentioned she was "a bad asthmatic".
Since the use of O2 at home after lobectomy in an otherwise healthy person is not the usual course of events, you should be comparing your state of health before your surgery to your current state. If you did have COPD & abnormal pulmonary function tests before surgery, then your need for O2 now is not that unusual. But if you were healthy before surgery, & had normal PFTs, then requiring O2 6 weeks post-lobectomy is very unusual & you definitely should have it checked out sooner rather than later.
I'm glad you will be seeing your surgeon soon.
Gail

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