Disc replacement, also known as artificial disc replacement, is an orthopedic procedure in which the worn out or damaged part of the disc material between the two vertebrae is removed and replaced with an artificial or synthetic disc. Depending on the location of damage, this procedure can either be cervical or lumbar disc replacement. This surgery is usually performed by making an incision in the abdomen (for lumbar) or neck (for cervical) and it may take the surgeons up to three hours to perform this procedure.
The disc is an important part of the spine. It is placed between the two vertebrae and serve crucial functions such as vertebral movement, connecting vertebrae and also acts as a cushion to absorb shocks on the spine. Disc replacement is done when the natural spine gets damaged due to various reasons. The reasons include spine fracture, spine cancer or infection of the spine. The condition is more severe in the people who are overweight. Disc replacement surgery is the option available for those patients who are not able to manage the pain and discomfort through medications, or physiotherapy and the chronic pain of the spine exists for more than 6 months.
India is becoming a global hub for medical tourism and every year lakhs of patients visit India to get treated for various medical conditions. Due to its low-cost treatment with the most modern infrastructure and extensively experienced staff, India is becoming the preferred destination for patients of countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Oman, Maldives, Iraq, and Yemen.
The slip disc surgical treatment in India is performed with an exceptionally high success rate. India has highly sophisticated machines and technology required for the post-surgical rehabilitation for the patients undergoing disc replacement surgeries. The orthopedics are highly trained with advanced orthopedic degrees and have worked for and trained from the Internationally renowned orthopedic surgeons. English speaking and highly professional para-medical staff also add up to attract patients from all over the world. The visa policies of the Indian Government, for foreign patients, are simple and hassle-free and there is a very small waiting time for the patients as treatment starts almost immediately.
Disc Replacement Cost in India vs Rest of the world
The cost of Disc Replacement Surgery in India is significantly lower than that in developed countries such as the USA, UK, and Canada. This is the reason that India has been witnessing a large number of patients from these countries to undergo disc replacement surgery. This is to be noted that in spite of the low cost, the quality of the healthcare in India is at par with that of the developed countries. The low cost in India is due to the low investment as well as operating cost to build and run a world-class infrastructure and also the availability of the services of highly experienced and extensively trained medical staff at competitive prices. Disc replacement surgery cost in India depends upon the type of surgery. While total disc replacement surgery or the slip disc surgery cost in India about $8000-$8500, while $5500-$6500 is the cost for Disc nucleus replacement surgery. Like any other surgery, the cost of disc replacement surgery also depends upon a variety of factors such as success rate of the hospital, infrastructure and post-surgical rehabilitation facilities, cost of the room per day, experience of the doctor, type of disc material and the follow-up visit charges.
The spinal cord is a linear arrangement of many small bones known as vertebrae. These vertebrae consist of spaces between them known as intervertebral spaces. They are filled with cartilaginous structures that provide a cushioning effect to the vertebrae and support the movement of the spine. These cartilaginous structures are called Intervertebral discs.
Any pathology of the intervertebral discs such as disc herniation (slipping of the disc from between the vertebrae), ruptured disc, or degenerative disc disease may cause severe back pain due to nerve impingement, indicating the need for either partial or total disc replacement. In partial disc replacement surgery, only a portion of the cartilaginous disc is replaced by the artificial disc, while the total disc is replaced in the total disc replacement surgery.
Cervical disc degeneration and disc rupture may cause chronic neck pain radiating towards the arm. Thoracic disc degeneration may cause chronic upper/ mid back pain while lumbar disc degeneration may cause chronic lower back pain.
Depending on the site of injury, any one of the following three types of incisions are made:
Once the incision is made, the following steps are performed:
Step 1: The organs are retracted once an incision is made to enable visibility
Step 2: The damaged or protruding disc is removed
Step 3: An artificial disc in place of excised disc is placed
Step 4 The artificial disc is secured to the adjacent vertebrae
Step 5: A sealing material between the frictional surfaces of the artificial disc is placed, if required
Step 6: The incision is surgically closed
You may be discharged after two to four days, after a thorough evaluation by the physical therapists. You are taught the proper techniques of getting in and out of bed before discharge from the hospital. You should avoid bending or twisting for the first two to four weeks to avoid straining the surgical site. You may be advised to use braces if your condition requires support in the lower back.
You may recover and get back to normal activities within three weeks after disc replacement surgery. Studies reveal that patients who successfully undergo total disc replacement surgery remain asymptomatic and free from chronic back pain for an average of 8.7 years.
The recovery time after total disc replacement is significantly less than that of spinal fusion surgery. The mobility is not compromised, and the prognosis is good. The success rate of the disc replacement surgery is around 98 percent.
According to a survey, India has been recommended as the third most favorite medical tourism destinations of the world. This is due to highly competitive prices as compared to the other developed countries, world-class infrastructure, modern machines and equipment and highly skilled orthopedic surgeons who have taken advanced training from abroad in performing the disc replacement surgery. Disc replacement surgery also requires rehabilitation which requires experienced paramedical staff and sophisticated physiotherapy machines, that are available in most of the Indian hospitals. Further, the post-surgical care done through a holistic approach including medications, physiotherapy, and yoga, which is unique to India and is not found in the rehabilitation strategy of any other country. Further, the visa rules are much lenient in case of foreign patients and also there is a very little waiting time and the treatment starts almost immediately, reducing the cost of staying in the country. India is the home of world-class spine surgeons which performs complex spinal surgeries with ease. For instance, in 2008, the US FDA approved multi-level cervical disc replacement. With only a few surgeons are able to conduct this surgery, Indian doctors, Dr. Ashish Shrivastav and Dr. Sunit Mediratta successfully performed this surgery in 2017.
The cost of disc replacement is decided by asking in account various parameters. The factors that significantly affect the cost of disc replacement surgery in India include the type of hospital and available facilities and infrastructure, success rate of the hospital in performing such surgeries, experience of the doctor, post-surgical and recovery phase facilities, medications, testing, and the follow-up visit charges. The average cost of total disc replacement surgery is $8000 while Disc nucleus replacement surgery costs $5500.
Following are the top orthopedic surgeons for disc replacement surgery in India:
1) Dr. B. Mohapatra, Indian Spinal Injuries Center, New Delhi
2) Dr. Hitesh Garg, Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon
3) Dr. Navaladi Shankar, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai
4) Dr. Vineesh Mathur, Medanta - The Medicity, Gurgaon
5) Dr. Arun Saroha, Max Hospital, Gurugram
6) Dr. Ketan Badani, Bombay Spine Centre, Mumbai
7) Dr. Satish Rudrappa, Sakra World Hospital, Bangalore
Disc replacement surgery is performed to make the patient relieved from pain, preventing further degeneration and to provide ease of movement. In the disc replacement surgery, the damaged disc is removed, and a new artificial disc is inserted. The disc replacement surgery in India has a high success rate with almost 70%-75% of the patients gets relieved from their symptoms. The success rate depends upon various factors such as underlying disease such as osteoporosis, increased weight, type of the material used in the disc and the experience of the doctor.
If the patient is healthy, with a normal weight and without any other medical condition, the recovery process of the disc replacement surgery is quite fast. The patient may be able to walk within a few weeks. The stay in the hospital after surgery is normally 2-3 days but may be extended if the patient has pain and discomfort. Physiotherapy is started in the hospital and it is advised to continue the same at home for the period prescribed by the professional. The follow-up visit is usually after 20-30 days and till the time you should refrain yourself from lifting heavy weights. The surgeon will see the progress of your recovery by evaluating X-ray and may resume your daily routine, definitely with caution.
Following are the top hospitals for spine surgery in India:
1) Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi
2) Max Hospital, New Delhi and Gurugram
3) Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi
4) Artemis Hospital, Gurugram
5) Medanta - The Medicity, Gurugram
6) Bombay Spine Centre, Mumbai
7) Sakra World Hospital, Bangalore
Following are some of the cities in India where Disc Replacement is done by the top neurologists in the most sought after certified Hospitals:
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