Special Clinical Focus

  • Video-assisted mediastinal lymph node excision
  • Excision of mediastinal tumours
  • Thymus excision for myasthenia gravis
  • Excision of neurinomata
  • Excision of bronchogenic cysts
  • Excision of pericardial cysts

About us

The Department of Thoracic Surgery at the Lutheran Hospital in Herne is headed by its Senior Consultant, Dr Erich Hecker, B.Econ., specialist surgeon and thoracic surgeon. Dr Hecker has around 15 years of experience as a surgeon and is a member of respected specialist associations, including the renowned American College of Chest Physicians.

In the area of research, he leads and co-ordinates several nationally and internationally based scientific studies on a variety of thoracic conditions. In the course of his lectureships at the Universities of Heidelberg and Goettingen, Dr Hecker has passed his knowledge on to up-and-coming medical practitioners. He is the author of a large number of publications and gives lectures at specialist conventions, not only nationally but across the world.

Dr Hecker and his team at the Department of Thoracic Surgery treat all clinical conditions which manifest in the organs of the thorax, including, for example, cancer conditions of the lungs, the trachea and the oesophagus and of the pleura. Together with cancer treatment, of course, we provide the entire spectrum of thoracic surgery. Here, our surgical focus is on the use of minimally invasive techniques. Minimally invasive procedures are not performed on exposed organs, but are performed with the aid of tiny instruments and a very small video camera, which are introduced into the patient's body via small incisions.

The Department of Thoracic Surgery is one of the leading centres in the use of minimally invasive surgical techniques across Europe and is also one of the largest specialist departments in Germany. This has also been shown by its recognition as a Centre of Excellence by the German Thoracic Surgery Association and as a Lung Cancer Centre by the German Cancer Association. In addition, it is also a thoracic surgery partner of the August Oncology Centre, the Cancer Center of Westphalia and the Main Cancer Centre of the University of the Ruhr, Bochum.

In addition to the annually over 1,400 in-patient procedures, almost 200 diagnostic and surgical procedures and 2,500 out-patient bronchoscopies are also performed. Meanwhile, 65% of the in-patient procedures are performed with the aid of minimally invasive techniques. The Department has several state-of-the-art operating theatres, which are furnished with the most up-to-date medical equipment. At the same time, these even transcend the prescribed hygiene requirements.

We also place a great deal of importance on interdisciplinary collaboration, which ensures that the patients receive the best treatment. In this manner, we also succeed in reducing the complication rate for procedures at our Centre to distinctly below 2%. This represents a remarkable success, where the lower limits required by the specialist associations are between 5 and 10%. These figures objectively show that your health is in the best of hands in our hands.

Diagnostic Services

  • Video-assisted thoracoscopy (VATS) (inspection of the thorax)
  • Video-mediastinoscopy (inspection of the mediastinal space)
  • Video-bronchoscopy (inspection of the bronchi)
  • Thoracic sonography
  • Transoesophageal echocardiography

Therapeutic Services

Minimally invasive surgery:
  • Video-assisted mediastinal lymph node excision
  • Excision of mediastinal tumours
  • Thymus excision for myasthenia gravis (thymectomy)
  • Excision of neurinomata (nerve sheath tumours)
  • Excision of bronchogenic cysts
  • Excision of pericardial cysts
  • Creation of a pericardial window
  • Atypical lung resection for the diagnosis of lung tissue conditions and small pulmonary tumours
  • Resection of anatomical lobes of the lung for bronchial carcinoma (VATS lobectomy)
  • Partial and complete pleural excision (pleurectomy)
  • Pleural effusion
  • Thoracic sympathectomy for hyperhidrosis (increased perspiration)
  • Volume reduction for pulmonary emphysema
  • Treatment of pneumothorax
  • Empyema debridement and decortication (de-rinding) for pleural suppuration
  • Paediatric thoracic surgery
  • Thoracic trauma / thoracic haemocoagulation (traumatic injury to the rib cage and the lungs)
  • Correction of sunken chest (Nuss technique)
  • Pulmonary metastases


Classic thoracic surgery:
  • Complete  trachea (windpipe)
  • Bronchial carcinoma (lung cancer) with dilatation
  • Mediastinal tumours
  • Pleural mesothelioma (cancer of the pleura)
  • Tumours of the chest wall
  • Correction of sunken and pigeon chest
  • Conditions of the diaphragm
  • Pulmonary metastases (adjuvant, with intrathoracic ultrasound and with LASER)
  • Plastic-reconstructive surgery to the thoracic wall – in association with the Department of Plastic Surgery
  • Carcinoma of the oesophagus (oesophageal cancer) – in association with the Department of Abdominal Surgery
  • Paediatric thoracic surgery – in association with the Department of Paediatric Surgery
Leading Medicine Guide

of selected experts in the specialist field Thoracic Surgery

Other services

  • Complete trachea (windpipe)
  • Bronchial carcinoma (lung cancer) with dilatation:
  • Bronchoplastic reconstruction (bronchial cuff)
  • Angioplastic reconstruction (vascular cuff / bypass replacement)
  • Pericardium
  • Cardiac atrium
  • Chest wall
  • Mediastinal tumours
  • Pleural mesothelioma (cancer of the pleura)
  • Tumours of the chest wall
  • Correction of sunken and pigeon chest
  • Conditions of the diaphragm

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