Lung Abscess, Pediatric

Care After

Sometimes surgery is needed to remove an infected sore (abscess) in the lungs. There may have been one or more abscesses. Surgery was done if medicine alone could not cure the problem. The goal was to remove just a small part of the lung. The surgeon usually takes out just the area where the abscess or abscesses were found.

Here is what happened during the operation:

  • Your child was asleep and felt nothing; (general anesthesia) was used.

  • One or more cuts (incisions) were made in your child's chest. The cuts were made between the ribs. Sometimes they are made under an arm. Other times in the front of the chest. The surgeon may have used:

  • One large cut (thoracotomy).

  • Two or three smaller cuts and a camera to see inside the body (video-assisted thoracoscopy).

  • The abscess and tissue around the sore are taken out through the incisions.

  • The incisions are closed with stitches or staples. A bandage (dressing) is put over the incision.


  • Your child will stay in a recovery area until the anesthesia has worn off. Blood pressure and heart rate will be checked often. You may be able to be in the room when your child starts to wake up.

  • Your child then may be taken to an intensive care unit. This is a part of the hospital where your child can be watched very closely. In time, your child may be taken to a regular hospital room.

  • Several tubes will be in your child's body:

  • One drains the fluid from the lungs.

  • Another drains urine.

  • Some children also have tubes in their nose. Possibly their mouth, too. These tubes are hooked to a machine helps them breathe (ventilator).

  • Pain medicine will probably be given. Let the hospital caregivers know any time you think your child is in pain.

  • Your child may continue to get fluids through the IV for awhile.

  • Do not let your child get out of bed until the hospital caregivers say it is OK.

  • A physical therapist may show your child how to do exercises to help heal the lungs.

  • Before taking your child home, ask your caregiver about:

  • When to change the dressing.

  • If the dressing can get wet.

  • When regular foods can be eaten.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.


  • Make sure your child takes any medication that the surgeon prescribes. Follow the directions carefully.

  • Do not get the incision wet for several days (or until the surgeon tells you it is OK).

  • Make sure your child drinks a lot of fluids. Water and juice are good choices. This means drinking enough so that your child's urine is clear or pale yellow.

  • Make sure your child does any exercises that were suggested. These exercises will help the lungs heal. Then, your child will be able to breathe better.

  • Limit your child's activity for awhile. He or she should not do anything that takes a lot of energy. Ask your child's healthcare provider for a list of things your child should and should not do while recovering.

  • Take your child to all follow-up appointments with the surgeon or other caregivers.

  • Take steps to keep your child's lungs healthy. To do this:

  • Keep your child away from tobacco smoke.

  • Do not allow smoking at home.

  • Do not take your child to places where people smoke.

  • Make sure that everyone who cares for your child knows that smoke can harm your child's lungs.

  • Protect your child from colds and the flu. This may mean no daycare or after-school programs. Sometimes it means missing school if there is a disease outbreak. Your child's caregiver can tell you when this is no longer needed. Your child should also receive all recommended vaccines.

  • Keep your child away from places where there is a lot of pollution in the air. This includes:

  • Wood smoke.

  • Car fumes.


  • You have any questions about medications that your child is taking.

  • You have questions about any exercises your child was told to do.

  • Blood or fluid oozes from an incision.

  • An incision becomes red or swollen.

  • Your child coughs up a thick, slimy substance that is often yellow or green (mucus).

  • Your child coughs up blood.

  • Your child is vomiting after leaving the hospital.

  • Your child is in pain, even after taking painkillers.

  • Your child develops a fever of more than 100.5° F (38.1° C).


  • Blood soaks through the dressing on the incision.

  • The stitches or staples come apart.

  • Your child has trouble breathing.

  • Your child develops a fever of 102.0° F (38.9° C) or higher.