What is a Segmentectomy?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 30 April 2019
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A segmentectomy is a surgery where a doctor removes a section of a gland or organ in a conservative treatment approach to an issue like cancer. The advantage to this technique is the conservation of the remaining healthy tissue, leading to fewer side effects for the patient and potentially making it possible to treat a patient who is too fragile for invasive procedures. Doctors may recommend segmentectomies when patients could clearly benefit from a less invasive therapy, and the procedure may require a surgical specialist like a cardiothoracic surgeon for the best results.

Before a segmentectomy, a surgeon will need some medical imaging studies of the area. She wants to identify all diseased tissue to make sure she can get it all out during the surgery. Screenings to make sure patients can safely undergo anesthesia are also part of the preoperative patient evaluation. The surgeon may also meet with other medical consultants to discuss follow-up care. Cancer is the usual reason for this procedure and the patient will also need radiation and/or chemotherapy to treat the cancer.


During the segmentectomy surgery, the surgeon exposes the area of interest and cuts out the damaged tissue. The goal is usually to remove an intact portion, limiting the chances of leaving diseased cells behind. If it is hard to identify the margins of the diseased tissue, the surgeon may request an immediate pathology report. The pathologist examines a specimen from the operating room and tells the surgeon whether the margins are clean, meaning that she has successfully removed all of the necessary tissue and can close the incision.

Liver, lung, and breast cancer are three common reasons to need a segmentectomy. This can be an option early in treatment, before the cancer has a chance to spread, or when a patient is too sick to survive a more invasive surgery. After surgery, the patient needs monitoring in a recovery area until he is stable. The patient also receives follow-up care. An oncologist can meet with the patient and surgeon to discuss treatments and talk about when to start treatment with chemotherapy, radiation, and other options.

Recovery times for a segmentectomy vary. Often, patients immediately start more treatment and this may make them feel ill and also slow the healing process. Since this procedure is usually necessary for a patient who is already sick, the patient outcome can vary considerably. Some patients do very well and can return to normal activity levels in a relatively short time, while others may be very ill and could require a hospital stay.



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