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Removal of lung metastases by the latest laser technology

“Do you see these small light spots on the CT?“, asks Prof. Dr. Bernward Passlick, Medical Director of the department of thoracic surgery at the Medical Center – University of Freiburg, pointing to several light areas on the CT scan. “Those are metastases in the lung“. What even the medical layperson can recognise on the computer screen is a bitter certainty for the affected patient: the cancer has spread to the lung – a devastating diagnosis for any patient. Moreover, the primary cancer is often already under control or has been combatted successfully by appropriate treatment methods. However, the risk of metastases following the cancer remains, above all in the liver, lungs and brain. “When lung metastases are resected, we have to remove all the metastases, as far as possible, while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible“, Prof. Passlick explains.

And for this, the doctors at the Medical Center - University of Freiburg now have a new operation technique at their disposal: a special laser that cuts lung tissue selectively. This allows much gentler surgical procedures for lung metastases with much less loss of blood and especially tissue and a shorter postoperative recovery period. Up to now it was necessary to remove larger regions involved by metastases completely, that is, with the intervening healthy tissue. This leads inevitably to major restrictions of lung function and thus impacts on the patient’s performance status and quality of life. Even metastases situated deep inside the organ can be removed minimally invasively with this new procedure. After the metastasis is removed, the wound is sutured so that repulsion of the heat-treated tissue is avoided. The loss of lung function after the operation is nought to ten per cent of the preoperative baseline.

The advantages of this operation technique are particularly obvious during follow-up treatment. If there is a recurrence – that is, further metastases in the lungs – this can also be removed with further surgery using the laser. “This was difficult until now using conventional methods because often there were such adhesions and losses of lung tissue after the first operation that further surgery was not possible or was associated with considerably greater risks for the patient“, explains Prof. Passlick.

Laser technology also scores when it comes to the costs of a laser surgical operation. The method is not more expensive than conventional operation methods, since the use of expensive stapling devices and blood transfusions is not required or can be reduced to a minimum. Shorter rehabilitation times support the positive balance sheet.

Medical Center - University of Freiburg is currently one of the few hospitals in the world to offer patients laser surgical resection of metastases.

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Medical Center - University of Freiburg

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