Pathology dictionary

What is a resection?

A resection is a type of surgical procedure that is performed to remove an area of abnormal tissue from the body. A resection usually removes all of the abnormal tissue plus some surrounding normal tissue. The cut edge of the tissue is called the margin.

A resection may remove an entire organ or parts of several organs connected to the abnormal tissue. A resection is usually performed when the abnormal tissue cannot be removed safely with a smaller type of procedure such as an excision or a biopsy.

Resections are commonly performed to remove tumours and the procedure may be given a special name depending on the location of the tumour.

Common types of resections

  • Lumpectomy – This type of resection is performed to remove an abnormal area of tissue from the breast. The abnormal area often feels like a “lump”.
  • Mastectomy – This type of resection is performed to remove all of the breast tissue on one side of the body. This type of resection may also include muscle and tissue from the armpit (axilla).
  • Glossectomy – This type of procedure is performed to remove part or all of the tongue.
  • Mandibulectomy – This type of procedure is performed to remove part or all of the lower jaw (mandible).
  • Tonsillectomy – This type of procedure is performed to remove the tonsil which is an area of tissue behind the tongue and near the side of the throat.
  • Maxillectomy – This type of procedure is performed to remove part of the upper jaw (maxilla). This type of resection usually also removes part of the roof of the mouth (palate) and part of the sinus over the mouth (maxillary sinus).
  • Thyroidectomy – This type of procedure is performed is performed to remove part or all of the thyroid gland.
  • Wedge resection – This type of procedure is performed to remove a small piece of lung but less then a whole lobe.
  • Lobectomy – This type of procedure is performed to remove one lobe of the lung.
  • Pneumonectomy – This type of procedure is performed to remove the entire lung on one side of the body.
  • Gastrectomy – This type of procedure is performed to remove part of the stomach.
  • Appendectomy – This type of procedure is performed to remove the appendix.
  • Cholecystectomy – This type of procedure is performed to remove the gallbladder.
  • Oophorectomy – This type of procedure is performed to remove an ovary.
  • Hysterectomy – This type of procedure is performed to remove the uterus.
  • Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – This type of procedure is performed to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes on both sides of the body. The uterus is sometimes also removed at the same time.
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