Since its establishment in 1982, the Thoracic Surgery and Anesthesia Department continues to evolve in meeting the needs of countless patients who have varying degrees of lung and other chest diseases. With the advent and the proven advantage of newer surgical techniques, we continue to lead the country in employing the latest technological advances in: Chest and lung surgeries, both minimally invasive and open procedures, Critical Airway Management such as tracheobronchial tumor ablations and stent deployment, novel diagnostic procedures for all pulmonary and other chest diseases like EBUS, Mediastinoscopy, Ultrasound and/or CT-guidance biopsies. We are leading the country in terms of video assisted thoracoscopic surgery (key-hole surgery) in removing tumors and other benign (blebs, bullae, infectious) conditions of the lungs, pleurae, mediastinum, and esophagus. Our Department is the only recognized Center of Excellence in Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery in the Philippines

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The Department of Thoracic Surgery and Anesthesia is manned by a dedicated staff attuned to the mission of the Lung Center of the Philippines, and that is to remain the premier institution for lung and other chest diseases in providing world class facilities and services to our patients.

The birth of the Department of Thoracic Surgery of the Lung Center is an integral part of the history of thoracic surgery in the Philippines. The Department was conceived by former Minister of Health Dr. Enrique Garcia, himself a thoracic surgeon, and Dr. Alfredo C. Balderrama who became the first department chair. As the premiere thoracic surgical center in the country, it has done Drs. Garcia and Balderrama proud by dominating the subspecialty in all its aspects since the Center opened in 1982.

With Dr. Balderrama as its chair from 1982 to 1986, the department quickly grew as it produced its first batch of surgical fellows – Drs. Rey A. Desales, Nestor N. Venida, Antonio C. Cabigas and Napoleon de Y. Guzman. The four have since distinguished themselves as leaders in the field. Most of them have become presidents of the Philippine Association of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons, Inc., and board examiners of the Philippine Association of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. They have produced quality trainees of their own, passing on the legacy of excellence bequeathed them by their elders.

The department has the only program in the country which is primarily dedicated to the field of general thoracic surgery. No hospital comes close to its average census of 1,000 major thoracic operations per year. 

The Lung Center is responsible for many firsts in Philippine thoracic surgery. In 1990, the first of a long series of Nd-YAG laser photoresections for pulmonary diseases began. 1991 saw the use of Fogarty balloon tamponade for massive hemoptysis, a skill honed from almost daily application, and which today has resulted in the Lung Center having the largest volume of Fogarty blockades in the world. The field of minimal access endoscopic surgery for chest diseases had its launching in Asia in 1993 at the Lung Center, where the first Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery in the continent was performed, witnessed by thoracic surgeons from Hongkong, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and India, among others. With this auspicious beginning, the center has to date compiled the longest series of Video-Assisted thoracoscopic surgeries by far in the country. In endoscopy, the first insertion of an indwelling expandable metallic stent in the trachea was also accomplished in 1998.

The problem of end-stage lung disease was confronted with the department’s introduction of Lung Volume Reduction Surgery in the country in 1995. Previous to this, however, the hospital was already deep into experimental lung transplantation, having performed 37 transplants in dogs with 10-month survivors by the time the Center burned down. At the time the Lung Center was destroyed, there were three lung transplant recipients confined and awaiting donors. Had the tragedy of May 1998 not occurred, the first human lung transplant in the Philippines would undoubtedly have been performed.

The hospital has distinguished itself as the premiere center in the field of thoracic oncology by providing completetreatment for the highest volume of lung cancer patients of any institution in the country—from diagnosis to surgery to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, including endobronchial brachytherapy. Indeed, the department stands tallest in the field of Philippine thoracic surgery, but it has yet to reach the lone barrier to its inclusion among truly world-class thoracic surgical centers by performing the first successful human lung transplant. Yet even as the Center struggles to rise to the heights of its former status, the department is busily absorbing the best and brightest of North American know-how in lung transplantations, and nobody doubts that the near future will see not only a fully reconstructed Lung Center, but also a Department of Thoracic Surgery at par with the best in the world.