Breathe easy: minimally-invasive device could be life-changing for lung patients

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An operation which could benefit patients of all ages has been carried out in Scotland for the first time, at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital.

VATS diaphragmatic plication is a minimally invasive technique using Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS) to treat patients who are short of breath due to an abnormally raised diaphragm and have been diagnosed with diaphragmatic palsy.

During the procedure, the surgeon uses keyhole surgery to place an Endostitch device which secures the lung’s diaphragm back into its original position. This improves airflow to the affected region, helping the patient to breathe more easily.

Rocco Bilancia, thoracic consultant, said: “I am delighted to have successfully carried out the first VATS Diaphragmatic Plication procedure here at the Golden Jubilee.

“Patients diagnosed with a raised diaphragm can find themselves really short of breath when carrying out simple day to day tasks, such as climbing the stairs, walking the dog or even bending or lie down.

“However, the results of this pioneering procedure have found that soon after treatment, patients are able to breathe much more efficiently, which vastly improves their quality of life.”

Diaphragmatic palsy is a complex condition, and until recently, could only be treated with open surgery which carried significant side effects. However, the VATS diaphragmatic plication procedure, initially developed in France and more recently available in the UK, is safer and more effective, according to the hospital.

Hany Eteiba, acting medical director at the Golden Jubilee Foundation, said: “This is a perfect example of our aim to provide innovative techniques to directly benefit Scottish patients. By being the first and only hospital in Scotland to perform this ground-breaking procedure, we are helping patients recover much quicker and with less pain.

“This procedure has offered additional hope to patients in Scotland diagnosed with a raised diaphragm and we hope that even more patients will benefit from this new technique."

The Golden Jubilee is home to the busiest lung surgery unit in the UK. Last year, it was the first hospital in Scotland to fit an emphysema patient with a minimally invasive, implantable lung valve, as part of a clinical study. And in 2015, new 3D imaging technology, which makes lung operations quicker, safer and more effective was trialled for the first time in Scotland at the hospital.

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