New technique launched for lung cancer keyhole surgery

Lung health

Consultants at Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals are using a new form of keyhole surgery for lung cancer, using just one small incision.

Our surgical team believes that this may result in less pain, less scarring, reduced recovery time and increased mobility post operation.

Conventional surgery for lung cancer is performed through a fairly large cut in the back of the chest and involves spreading the ribs to remove the diseased section of lung.

The introduction of multiple hole keyhole surgery is already thought to allow for a more rapid recovery and return to normal life in those patients suitable for this technique. Traditionally this type of surgery has involved making three or four small cuts to the chest, through which a telescopic camera and surgical tools are inserted to examine the lungs and remove the affected areas.

An improved technique pioneered by consultant thoracic surgeons, Professor Eric Lim and Mr Simon Jordan at Royal Brompton Hospital, allows surgeons to perform keyhole surgery through just one incision which is less than three finger breadths.

Above: Professor Eric Lim (centre) performing single incision keyhole lung resection


Above: Scar from single incision keyhole surgery


The entire operation is performed through the single access port. Apart from standard lobectomy procedures, more complex operations have also been done with this single port keyhole surgery including:

  • segmentectomy
  • lung resection with chest wall resection
  • revision surgery
  • sleeve resection (removing part of the airway and reconstructing the two ends back together to minimise loss of lung function).

Although keyhole surgery is gradually gaining in popularity in the UK, it still remains relatively uncommon, accounting for less than 14 per cent of lung cancer operations performed in 2010. In contrast, consultants at Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals performed over 133 keyhole procedures between 2010 and 2013 and are performing more each year. 

Currently, surgeons at the Royal Brompton Hospital who specialise in minimally invasive techniques are able to perform over 60 per cent of conventional lung cancer resections using this new technique, through a single keyhole.

Next year, Professor Eric Lim will be leading a UK-wide clinical trial that compares keyhole surgery with conventional open chest surgery to further define the relative benefits and answer important questions on outcomes.


Professor Eric Lim

Consultant thoracic surgeon




Mr Simon Jordan

Consultant thoracic surgeon




Find out more

For more information on thoracic surgery at RB&HH Specialist Care, or to book an appointment with Professor Eric Lim or Mr Simon Jordan, please email: or call: +44 (0)20 3131 5136.