National University Hospital doctor pioneers 'one cut' lung surgery technique

A doctor at the National University Hospital has pioneered a technique of performing lung surgery that reduces the amount of incisions, drug dosage and possible damage that other methods can involve.

Dr John Tam makes one 3cm incision - compared to at least three or four small cuts that other minimally invasive techniques involve. It also means no muscle fibres are cut or ribs are cracked, as can happen in conventional surgery.

He inserts a tiny camera and other surgical instruments between the patient's ribs to carry out his work.

Instead of having to take heavy doses of painkillers after surgery, most of his patients take only Panadeine - a slightly stronger version of Panadol. Most stopped painkillers after a few days and were discharged within a week.

More than 300 patients have undergone his procedure since it was introduced in 2009. Around half had tumours removed while the rest had chest conditions.

Dr Tam said only about 30 per cent of lung surgery worldwide is carried out using minimally invasive techniques while less than five surgeons in the world use the one incision method. He published a paper on his technique in a medical journal last month.