Norfolk hospital becomes the first in East Anglia to pioneer key-hole surgery to remove lung cancers

Waldemar Bartosik, thoracic surgical consultant at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Waldemar Bartosik, thoracic surgical consultant at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. - Credit: Archant

More lung cancer patients across East Anglia are set to benefit from key-hole surgery after a Norfolk hospital became the first in the region to offer a specialist procedure.

Local patients would have had to travel to London or Liverpool for video assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) to remove cancer tumours. However, after a successful pilot, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, is able to offer the procedures to lung cancer patients at the N&N, James Paget University Trust Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, and Ipswich Hospital.

The procedure in Norfolk has been pioneered by Waldemar Bartosik, thoracic surgical consultant, who has performed 75 of the key-hole surgeries since January 2013.

He is now training the hospital trust's two other thoracic consultants to perform the advanced surgery.

Mr Bartosik said VATS was much less invasive than open surgery and patients recovered quicker. The pain and discomfort during recovery is also significantly reduced and patients are left with just a few small scars. He added that it was more suitable for older patients.

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Within the first year of carrying out VATS, the thoracic team have ensured that 55pc of all lobectomies have been performed by key-hole surgery, compared to 14pc nationally.

He added: 'This procedure is still quite new in the UK and not offered routinely in many thoracic centres, so it's brilliant news that this is an option for patients with certain types of lung cancers or other localised lung diseases who live in Norfolk and Suffolk. With the traditional surgery you have to make a large incision in the patient's side and then spread two ribs apart to gain access to the chest; this can obviously be very painful for the patient.'

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'The key-hole technique only requires two to three incisions because we use a tiny camera which is hooked up to the screen, so we can see inside the chest clearly without needing to spread the ribs. Patients used to have to stay in hospital for a week or more after surgery and now they could be home within four days after VATS, which is fantastic.'

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