Royal Brompton Hospital opened its specialist 1318nm lung laser theatre in 2010, and continues to lead the way in this innovative field.
The lung laser uses a special wavelength laser beam to remove tumours from patients’ lungs, with minimal damage to neighbouring healthy lung tissue. The lung laser can be used in properly selected patients for tumours of all kinds, including colonic cancers and sarcomas. The system enables surgeons to perform complicated lung surgery with great benefits for patients, by:
· Targeting and removing individual tumours, significantly improving the patient’s chances of survival. Contrary to other methods like radio frequency ablation (RFA), the lung laser allows reliable, complete removal of multiple tumours in any location in the lung. Crucially, it also provides tumour specimens for histology.
· Enabling the eradication of deep-seated and multiple tumours without the need to remove a major section of the lung, so preserving lung function and quality of life.
· Removing multiple tumours faster, therefore reducing the time that the patient spends under a general anaesthetic.
· Removing tumours whilst at the same time sealing the surrounding lung tissue, minimising the risk of internal bleeding or air leak from the operated lung. As a result chest drains are removed very quickly and the hospital stay is dramatically shortened.
Mr George Ladas, senior consultant thoracic surgeon at Royal Brompton Hospital, explained: “Lung laser surgery has transformed the way we treat tumours. It allows us to significantly improve the quality of care we offer to our patients, as well as their quality of life after surgery.”
Lung cancer remains the most common cancer in the world with around 1.3 million new people diagnosed with it annually.
In the UK, it is responsible for the most deaths due to cancer in both men and women. Many of Mr Ladas's patients have developed secondary lung tumours after having primary cancer successfully treated somewhere else in the body previously, such as the bowel or kidney, or in muscles or bones and he has performed more than 700 metastasectomy operations in the last 20 years. If there is no disease elsewhere, they are candidates for the lung laser.
Although the laser can be helpful on selected primary tumours, it is most commonly used on secondary lung tumours as surgery on the former usually requires removing a larger part of the lung in any case.
“When you deal with secondary tumours it is usual for a patient to have five or more in each lung. The task is to completely remove them all, while saving as much of the healthy lung as possible.”
The 1318 nm lung laser makes the operation much quicker which means patients are under general anaesthetic for about half the time it would take without it, and chest drains are removed much faster, usually within one to two days, with patients discharged sooner.
Mr Ladas has already performed more than 150 lung laser procedures, many of these in patients who were previously declared inoperable in the UK and abroad, with excellent results.
International recognition for lung laser results
Royal Brompton Hosptial’s leadership in lung laser surgery has led to considerable international recognition. In 2011, the team presented the excellent results from the first 45 lung laser operations performed to the Annual Meeting of Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland.
In December 2013, Mr Ladas presented his work on 'Pulmonary and Thoracic Metastasectomy and Combined Hepatic and Pulmonary Colorectal Metastases' at the 12th Panhellenic Meeting of Surgical Oncology in Athens.
As of 2017, we no longer offer this service but are able to offer video-assisted thoracoscopic PlasmaJet ablation with Professor Vladimir Anikin.