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Cutting out the trauma of surgery

Minimally invasive surgery is increasingly common, with the benefit of small surgical incisions, from which patients tend to experience less discomfort and recover from more quickly than they would with more invasive surgery.

The breast clinic at The Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead has been conducting research with University College London into keyhole mastectomy, nipple endoscopy, photodynamic therapy and new computer software to aid clinicians in decision making. It is a leader in the use of sentinel lymph node biopsy to test for the spread of cancer during surgery, avoiding the need for a second anaesthetic.

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The hospital is also part of an international clinical trial of intra-operative radiotherapy. Selected breast cancer patients receive a single does of radiation during surgery, as an alternative to multiple post-operative visits. The Royal Free was also among the first to offer electro-chemotherapy, using electrical pulses to make cells more receptive to cancer-killing drugs.

Minimally invasive cosmetic treatments at the Royal Free include the earFoldTM implant, to correct prominent ears – which affect one in 20 people. earFoldTM is quicker than conventional treatment, with one implant taking around three minutes and two taking up to 15 minutes. It is performed under local anaesthetic and the outcome is usually immediately apparent. A maximum of two small incisions are required, each about 10mm long, compared to a 40 to 50mm incision in conventional surgery. Recovery is relatively rapid, with most bruising and swelling gone within two weeks.

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Article first published on 7 March 2014 in the Jewish Chronicle Health & Wellbeing Supplement