New lung surgery technique at Sheffield hospitals cuts patients recovery time to just four days

Consultant surgeon Laura Socci, patient Nick Ross and Matron Jane Coates at Northern General Hospital
Consultant surgeon Laura Socci, patient Nick Ross and Matron Jane Coates at Northern General Hospital
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Sheffield is leading the way using a new technique which is said to reduce the risk, complications and operating time on lung patients.

And Nick Ross, aged 70, is one of those patients at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals to benefit from a new, minimally invasive technique which is enables people to recover faster and go home sooner after lung surgery.

Northern General Hospital

Northern General Hospital

The technique, known as a single port VATS, has allowed patients who have undergone major surgery to mobilise within two hours and return home after just four days in hospital.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals is one of the first NHS trusts in the UK to widely use the new procedure.

Rather than open surgery or two or three separate incisions, it requires just one four centimetre incision for surgical instruments and a camera to be inserted. Video monitoring is then used to carry out the operation.

Using the technique, a lung cancer patient could have a third or half of a lung removed and return home from hospital after four days. Using traditional surgery, this would have been eight days.

The whole thoracic surgery unit is now using the technique and about 70 per cent of operations are carried out this way, compared to just 18 per cent in 2012.

Mr Ross, a retired commercial director, from Derbyshire, was treated at the Northern General Hospital.

He said: ‘I’ve received an amazing turnaround, this is very important because I believe the recovery process is greatly enhanced by being able to go home as quickly as possible after treatment. From being able to have the operation to be medically fit to go home so soon is just brilliant and greatly appreciated by both myself and my family."

Consultant Thoracic Surgeon Laura Socci said: ‘It makes it less much less invasive and painful for the patient and recovery is faster.

"Patients are happy with the outcome, because it has good results, a smaller scar and they can get back to a normal life more quickly. As a surgeon I find it straightforward to do, and it saves time and resources for the department as well."

The technique is coupled with other improvements that have led to better outcomes.

Epidurals are no longer being used, with pain relief now going into an intercostal muscle. This carries fewer risks and side-effects, is easier for nurses to manage and the patient is freer to move around.

A single electronic chest drain is used to drain fluid and air from the chest, rather than two drains. It is easier to monitor and helps to ensure patients can return home in a timely manner.

Pre-operative assessment is now done by a multi-disciplinary team which means patients can be fully assessed and come in to hospital ready for surgery on the day, rather than having to stay overnight. This helps to reduce length of stay and complications.

Mr Ross added: "I cannot praise the staff enough. They have been caring, considerate and understanding throughout my stay."