What is a Wedge Resection?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2019
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A wedge resection is a surgery where the surgeon takes a wedge-shaped piece of tissue with the goal of removing cancerous growth along with a healthy margin. This procedure is most commonly used in the management of lung cancer, particularly non-small cell lung cancer, although it can also be used for cancers in other regions of the body, such as ovarian cancer. It is performed on a patient under general anesthesia by an experienced surgeon and the tissue sample is sent to a biopsy lab to learn more and assist with the determination of the next step in cancer treatment.

Before a wedge resection is performed, the patient is thoroughly evaluated. If a biopsy has already been taken, this may be used to determine if the tumor will respond well to the surgery, and medical imaging studies will be used to learn more about the size and position of the tumor. The patient will also screened medically so the anesthesiologist and surgeon can clear the patient for surgery. If the tumor is large or the patient is unstable, a wedge resection may not be a recommended treatment option as it could be dangerous or unproductive.


In the surgery, many surgeons use endoscopic procedures, inserting cameras and tools through small incisions to take out the cancer without creating a large open incision. Once the cancer is removed, tubes can be placed for drainage and the incisions can be closed. Surgical recovery can require several days to a week in the hospital. The patient may also start chemotherapy, radiation, or both to kill any cancer cells left behind in the body.

The risks of a wedge resection include adverse reactions to anesthesia, along with infection. It is possible for the surgeon to miss some of the cancer, complicating medical treatment, and the patient may become unstable during surgery because of an undiagnosed medical issue, causing a drop in blood pressure or other problems. Providing a detailed and thorough medical history during surgical screening will help limit risks, as steps can be taken to protect patients with known issues from specific issues that may arise during surgery.

After a wedge resection, patients may have weeks, months, or years of cancer treatment ahead of them. The prognosis for the patient depends on the type of cancer, the stage, the location, and the patient's general level of health. Some patients may make an excellent recovery and stay in remission from cancer for an extended period of time, while others may relapse, fail to respond to cancer treatment, or never fully recover from surgery.


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