" Trapped Lung"

My husband, 58, stage 4 nsclc has a collapsed lower right lung. They have not found his tumor, but suspect it is inside the collapsed portion of his lung. They had a hard time diagnosing lung cancer, but were able to piece together some cells from the fluid that was trapped somewhere in the lung cavity. He has a chest tube in place which has to be drained every two days. I read this blog everyday, and it has been informative and supportive. Has anyone out there experienced the same " trapped lung?" Does the lung ever expand again? Will the chest tube be permanent?

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I can only tell you that I had a collapsed lung after liver transplant. During a biopsy they inadvertently punctured my diaphram and I bled internally (made worse by low platelet count). The right lung collapsed surrounded by the blood that filled up the cavity.

I had two chest tubes for about two weeks, and yes, it did fill back up, but it has always been painful since. I doubt that will ever go away, especially now that I've had a wedgeresection on that same part.

So collapsed lungs do reinflate, or else I think they have to be removed. Did they talk to you about surgery anyway?

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Well if the tumor is in that part of the lung I would think they want to remove it immediately? Nineteen years ago my friend had her lung collapse from a tumor and she had the entire left side (two lobes) removed and she is fine today living with one lung. The collapse of her lung was apparently a godsend (looking back) because she had no clue she had lung cancer until that happened! She's not had a recurrence in all these years. I've never heard of anyone having a permanent chest tube. Sharon

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When my dad was diagnosed (also stage IV NSCLC), it was because they found fluid behind his lungs (turned out to be a malignant pleural effusion). His lung was also partially collapsed because of the fluid. They admitted him to the hospital for three days while they drained the fluid through a chest tube. After it was all drained (took a few days), they put a talc treatment into the cavity through the chest tube. Apparently this helps dry up the fluid and keeps it from returning. They kept him in the hospital under observation until his lung had re-inflated -- they monitored the lung capacity using a spirometer (graduated cylinder type apparatus that has a tube on it. You inhale through the tube, and it measures your lung capacity). He had to do ten breaths every hour that he was awake, and this supposedly helped his lung get back to normal. The family and the hospital staff pushed him to follow the doctor's orders, even though the re-inflation can be painful -- especially after the talc treatment. But he did get it inflated again, and he was out of the hospital in 3-4 days. Hope that helps. I hope your husband is doing better by now!

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Thank you for your great information. We are puzzled by the Dr.s sending him hime with a chest tube and not removing the " tumor". This has been such a puzzling case. My guess is that they did not opt for surgery because the cancer has spread to his bones. I drain the chest tube every other day ( and for those of you who have had to purchase the Pleurx drain kits, you know that they are $ 100.00/ kit). He drains aboput 350 ml each time. I will ask his Dr. about the talc. They drained about 2000ml of fluid out the days he was in the hospital, and that is how Lung Cancer was diagnosed. They have not found a tumor, just " suspect" that it is in the collapsed portion of the lung. Any exercises we can do at home to re-inflate the lung? He has also lost about 4 inches in height and has a " dowager's hump". Really strange. Again, thanks for your help.

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As far as at-home exercises go...the doctors and nurses had my dad using the spirometer while he was in the hospital, but they also had him take it home with him to use. About 10 breaths every hour he was awake. He used it for about two weeks after they discharged him, and we still have it just to keep tabs on his lung capacity in case we suspect that part of his lung has collapsed again. Hope that helps!

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