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Catalonia's first lung operation without having to open rib cage

Barcelona's Sant Pau hospital uses new minimally invasive technique that significantly reduces postoperative pain

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25 November 2019 07:52 PM

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Cristina Tomàs White|Barcelona

For the first time in Catalonia, Barcelona's Santa Creu i Sant Pau hospital has carried out a lung cancer operation through an incision below the xiphoid process, which is a small extension of bone just below the sternum.

The operation, which has only been carried out once before in Spain, used a pioneering technique that allows access to the lungs without having to open the rib cage and is considered a step forward in minimally invasive surgery.

"What we do with the technique is to look for a natural space without having to touch the nerves that pass below the ribs, which is what produces the pain following an operation," said Doctor Joan Carles Trujillo, of the thoracic surgery department. 

Just three days after the operation, the 57-year-old patient was already back at home without having to take the usual painkillers.

Rise in minimally invasive operations

The Sant Pau hospital now uses minimally invasive techniques for lung cancer operations whenever it is feasible, and the number of such surgeries at the hospital has gone up from 8% to 72% in the past few years.

One of the main consequences is reducing the time patients have to stay in hospital after surgery from an average of 8.8 days to a little over three, according to the head of the thoracic surgery department at Sant Pau, Josep Belda.

Yet, with this latest operation, the hospital has gone a step further and used a new technique that avoids postoperative pain, with the patient, Concepció Català, not only out of hospital in days but already back at work a month since her operation.

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  • Doctor Joan Carles Trujillo operates on a lung cancer patient using a new minimally invasive technique that significantly reduces postoperative pain (by Hospital de Sant Pau)

  • Doctor Joan Carles Trujillo operates on a lung cancer patient using a new minimally invasive technique that significantly reduces postoperative pain (by Hospital de Sant Pau)

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