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Chest Wall Implants May Help Surgical Mesothelioma Patients

Many patients who suffer from Mesothelioma go through a radical surgery to have the tumor and the areas surrounding the tumor removed. This surgery, called Pleurectomy, can be effective, but it can also leave the chest wall compressed, which can cause difficulty with breathing and functioning normally again.

In most cases, patients who undergo Pleurectomy surgery spend 2 weeks to 1-month in the hospital for recovery. Recently, a new reconstructive chest wall surgery that uses biological implants has been successful in helping patients recover more quickly and return to normal daily activities faster. The benefit of the surgery, besides cosmetic, is that it can take some of the pressure off of the lungs to make it easier for patients to breath after surgery.

Typically, following this type of tumor removal surgery, synthetic materials have been used to assist in rebuilding the chest wall. In other types of surgeries (heart valve for instance), there has been much success with using biological animal-based implants in patients in need. Thus, a study was done by a group of thoracic surgeons in the UK , and they performed chest wall reconstructive surgery on Mesothelioma and lung cancer patients using biological prostheses and graft patches. They used the biologic materials consecutively on 44 thoracic surgery patients between August of 2009 and August of 2011. Although three patients did die following the surgeries, the reasons for the deaths were not related to the chest wall reconstruction surgery using biologic materials.

The results of the study, which were published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, noted that there were no infections or complications related to the materials used in these surgeries and the biologic grafts used were satisfactory. It was noted that overall, the results and the outcomes were acceptable.

For many patients who have to undergo the Pleurectomy surgery, or some other type of lung surgery to remove cancerous tumors, these results are promising. Biologic materials tend to offer less complications than synthetic materials in the long run. Generally speaking, repeat surgeries are much less common in patients who have biologic animal-based implants versus synthetic implants.

Of the almost 2,500 new cases of Mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States every year, a majority of them are Pleural Mesothelioma. This type of cancer attacks the lining of the lungs, and is known to progress quickly. On average, patients diagnosed with this condition live 12 to 18 months following initial diagnosis. Pleurectomy surgery is one way physicians attempt to increase lifespan and quality of life for patients diagnosed with this condition. However, the road to recovery following surgery is extremely long. This new discovery might be one way to help patients with this condition recover more quickly from surgery.