About Lung Infections

Bacteria, viruses and fungi can infect the lungs, sternum and diaphragm. Antibiotics and other medications will clear up most infections, but some infections become chronic and resistant to these medications. This is more likely to happen in people whose immunity has already been compromised by recent surgery, age, or an unrelated disease.

In these cases, patients require care from an experienced specialist.

Pneumonia is a common type of lung infection that can be caused by either bacteria or viruses. When someone has pneumonia, the airways swell and the lungs to fill with mucus and other fluids. This makes it difficult to breathe and for oxygen to get to a patient’s cells. In addition to antibiotics, a patient may be hospitalized so they receive oxygen, fluids (such as saline) and breathing treatments.

Occasionally, despite these treatments, pneumonia persists and becomes severe and complicated. Abscesses may develop, pus may form and compromise lung recovery, or a damaged lobe of the lung may fail altogether. In these cases, surgery may be needed.

A Patient’s Perspective
Learn what one patient has to say about the Lourdes Cardiovascular Institute.
Basics

  • Most people breathe 12 to 20 times a minute, bringing oxygenated air down the throat and into the lungs, which transfer oxygen into the blood and remove carbon monoxide from it
  • Viruses, bacteria and fungi are all capable of infecting the lungs and chest cavity
  • Infections lead to swelling and mucous build up, which make it harder for patients to breathe and for their lungs to work properly.
Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • High fever (up to 105 degrees)
  • Cough
Treatments

  • Antibiotics clear up most cases of pneumonia and other types of lung infections
  • For complicated cases of pneumonia, surgery can help removed dead or damaged tissue
  • If a portion of the lung can’t be salvaged, an entire lobe may be removed
  • If pneumonia leads to a collapsed lung, a surgeon may remove air or fluid from the chest cavity

How We Can Help

If medication cannot clear the infection, our highly skilled surgeons can remove the infected or damaged tissue as well as disinfect the affected area to prevent the infection from recurring. These operations require high levels of skill, experience and judgment.

For example, in the case of pneumonia, surgery can remove dead lung tissue, reinflate a collapsed lung, and remove fluid build up around the lungs. After a lung lobectomy, lung tissue expands and regrows, often to completely replace the removed tissue, returning lung function and capacity.
If, in addition to infection, a patient also has fluid build up around the lungs (called pleural effusion), our surgeons may also place tubes into the patient’s chest to drain the fluid, allowing their lungs to heal.

We specialize in minimally invasive approaches as well as the use of advanced technology such as robotics.