Lung Cancer

A support group for anyone affected by lung cancer to come together, share experiences, and ask questions.

Can't breathe due to ribs broken during operation

Posted by

9 months after a lobectormy of the right lower lung I am suffering extreme discomfort and swelling in the back and front rib cage.  I also have a thick lump of flesh above my stomach to the right of centre of the breast bone which swells up and causes discomfort when I eat!  Not that I eat much anyway as I have no appetite, and eating gives me indigestion and makes me feel sick. 

I am short of breath even at rest and am totally fatigued trying to dress or undress.  Most days I lie in my bed for most of the day, and do not even have the energy to climb the stairs.

I feel as though the right hand side of my chest is being squeezed in a vise, and cannot breathe properly because of this.  The lung specialist has told me this is due to my having had ribs broken during 3 episodes of surgery, due to massive bleeding and having tto be taken back to the operating theatre to have the operation redone another twice.  She says the broken ribs are pressing on the remainder of the right lung like a clamp and preventing it from expanding to full capacity when I breathe, and that I will be like this for whatever time is left to me, are there is nothing that can be done about this.

I would like to hear from anybody else who has had a right lung lobectomy and is experiencing problems with breathing due to broken ribs and how they are coping with it.

Posted by

hi my name is stewart. my right lung was removed last november along with the tumour, i have not suffered any broken ribs as you have, but can relate to what you are saying about when you have anything to eat, i am the same but at the moment am going through having some test done to find out why. had a scan done and am back at lincoln next monday to have a camera passed down my throat. hopefully this will show something, whats going on. it is true what you say it does feel like somone with a grip around your throat and the pain across your chest is awfull.

also trying to go up the stairs is a big effort as well i have to stop and rest on the stairs and then sit on the bed after. but dont no about you but i have to have a back rest in bed cause the op will not let me lay flat and go of to sleep.have to be propped up and sleep that way. but am told it is only early days yet since my op. so like me i really hope things get better for you . regards stewart .


Posted by

Hello Pappyon

Sorry to read that you are still suffering since your surgery. 

Have you considered a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon so he can assess your rib problems?  Oncologists and thoracic surgeons are not specialists when it comes to bone trauma, so an orthopaedic surgeon may be able to suggest something that could ease your pain.  Similarly with the trouble you are having with eating ie indigestion etc.  Omeprazole is one choice that you could discuss with your GP, Gaviscon another. 

Hope that you can get some sort of help to ease your symptoms.


Posted by

Thank you for the replies to my post and for good wishes expressed.

It was the lung specialist who told me my condition in relation to my ribs being in the state they are in will never improve, and she made no mention of seeing an orthopaedic surgeon.  I would imagine this might relate to getting more surgery, and I could not tolerate this.  It would kill me!

I believe I am to be sent for physiotherapy, but the state I am in I don't think I could tolerate that either.

I go to the department of nuclear medicine in a hospital soon for an examination of my stomach, and have already had an endoscopy which showed up nothing and likewise an ultrasound scan.

In relation to Heywood's comments re medication.  I find that Omeprazole is totally ineffectual, but I do get some relief from Gaviscon.

My main concern though is the inability to breathe properly and the pain and discomfort in my rib cage.

Regarding the first post:  There are nights when I go to bed and cannot lie on my right side as it feels as though I am lying on a bag of bones.

to think I went through the trauma of three operations, two of which were not supposed to happen, to end up a permanent invalid suffering pain and discomfort every hour of the day and fighting for breath.

Before the surgery I could walk at 4 miles an hour for 12 miles, 4 times a week, now I am like a fish out of water!