Possible complications of thoracic surgery apply to pneumonectomy.
In addition the following are risks of pneumonectomy:
Minor more common risks
Your kidneys may not work as well after surgery but this is usually temporary and gets better with extra fluid.
Major less common risks
As mentioned above you will feel short of breath at first. If you already have lung disease there is a higher risk of being severely breathless, including needing to have oxygen at home.
Shortness of breath may severe enough to require help from a ventilator machine. This can be with a face mask with you fully awake. It may also be need via a tube in your windpipe with you under sedation. If you need help breathing via a tube for a long time it may be better to have a temporary tracheostomy. This is a tube put in through the neck which is removed once breathing improves.
A hole may form near the staples (bronchopleural fistula), this is usually only happens with an infection. It causes air to keep coming out of the lung but can be difficult to diagnose. You may need antibiotics and another operation to fix the hole.
Fatty fluid may collect in the chest (chyle leak), it is rare. You may require a temporary change in diet, a chest drain or another operation to treat this.
This operation is considered high risk. Nationally 19 in 20 people are alive 1 month after surgery and 1 person dies. Your individual risk may be higher or lower depending on your health.
Some rare symptoms may happen after pneumonectomy, including sudden increased shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing and fainting. You may require another operation to get rid of the symptoms.