Disc Replacement in South Korea

Introduced recently as a modern treatment for severe cervical diseases, the disc replacement surgery has proven a boon to mankind. In this procedure, the diseased or damaged discs are surgically removed and replaced by artificial ones. The procedure henceforth enables the suffering individuals to attain partial or nearly complete mobility in the cervical/lumbar region. On the contrary, the prior treatments included fusing the adjacent cervical vertebrae instead of replacing or inserting any kind of artificial disc. The procedure was recently eliminated as it causes stiffness and immobility in patients post-surgery. However, the disc replacement surgery cost may vary from a minimum of $8000 to approximately $40,000 and higher. 

What is Disc Replacement ( Cervical /Lumbar)?

Cervical or lumbar disc replacement surgery is one of the most recent treatments included among spinal treatments. It is mostly suggested when a pressed nerve root, within a compact spinal canal, experiences enhanced pressure and causes extreme pain and inflammation. This may happen due to rapidly degenerating diseased cervical/lumbar disc which results in narrowing of the space. Hence, replacing the degenerated disc with an artificial disc restores the spinal health, thereby reducing the pain and suffering. 

Ideal Candidate for Disc Replacement ( Cervical /Lumbar)

Before suggesting an operation, the surgeon may evaluate the individual to determine the candidacy for the procedure. Hence, in order for the disc replacement surgery to be performed, the candidate must:

  • Experience recurring pain in the medial or vertebral region
  • Have degenerated resulting in narrowing of spinal canal
  • Be diagnosed with herniated cervical or lumbar disc that cannot be repositioned and needs to be replaced
  • Be diagnosed or detected as damaged.

Factors Affecting the cost of Disc Replacement ( Cervical /Lumbar)

Cervical disc replacement cost varies to a great extent as per the country where the procedure is being performed. Where countries like India, and Singapore offer affordable base rates, major countries like UK and USA charge extremes. However, the other key determining factors are:

  • Type of condition the candidate has been diagnosed with
  • Possibility of complications, of any
  • Type of artificial disc suitable
  • Extent of procedure required
  • Healthcare benefits availed and necessary.
Treatment and Cost

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About the Disc Replacement ( Cervical /Lumber)

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.

 

Conditions that indicate the need for a disc replacement surgery:

  • Discitis (Inflammation of the intervertebral disc)
  • Scoliosis (abnormal spinal curve laterally)
  • Herniated disc in back (slipping of the cartilaginous disc into surrounding tissue)
  • Disc degeneration and disc rupture (infection of the intervertebral disc causing its degeneration.

How is Disc Replacement ( Cervical /Lumber) performed?

Depending on the site of injury, any one of the following three types of incisions are made:

  • For cervical vertebrae: Incision in front of the neck, at the level of the vertebrae
  • For thoracic vertebrae: Trans thoracic incision, at the level of the vertebrae
  • For Lumbar and sacral vertebrae: Abdominal incision, at the level of the vertebrae

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

Recovery from Disc Replacement ( Cervical /Lumber)

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.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the health care infrastructure of South Korea / Why should opt for South Korea as a destination for your medical treatment?
South Korea is recognized for its strict rules and regulations which have kept the country in strict discipline. As an upside, the country has well-maintained regulations for every process and impressive medical healthcare facilities which have garnered thousands of visitors from across the world. The reason for opting for hospitals in South Korea is the astounding treatment options available at a very cost-effective price range, which is undoubtedly more affordable than most of the developed countries across the world. Besides the well-planned infrastructure, the treatment in South Korea and the alternatives offered are tempting enough. Apart from that, the country also flaunts high success rates and has thus been able to cure some of the most complex diseases in the world.
What are the conditions of the hospitals in South Korea? Are they JCI certified? What is the quality of the support staff in the hospitals?
The Joint Commission International (JCI) is a global leader in health care accreditation. JCI accreditation is considered a gold standard in worldwide health care. It provides the most skilled and experienced healthcare professionals in the medical industry, as evaluators of the rigorous international standards in healthcare quality and patient safety. YUHS Severance Hospital + Gangnam Severance Hospital is a JCI certified hospital in South Korea.
Are the doctors/surgeons in South Korea of the best quality?
The doctors and surgeons providing treatments in South Korea are globally recognized for their service in the medical field. Furnished with degrees from reputed universities and decades of training and experience, the doctors have earned high success rates throughout their professional careers. The doctors have to undergo rigorous training to keep up with the strict protocol and measures of hospitals in South Korea. Hence, quality is maintained.
What is the process for obtaining a medical visa in South Korea?
The Korean embassy follows a strict protocol for obtaining a visa for traveling to the country. The necessary documents (photocopies and original) have been listed on their official website and should be strictly adhered to. The candidate also has to produce necessary papers stating the medical cause and referral certificate signed by the registered medical practitioner. Although these need to be taken care of by the candidate, the rest of the procedures and further visa assistance is managed by the sponsors in most cases. A Medical Dependent Visa is granted to those who are accompanying a patient traveling to Sount Korea for medical treatment on a Medical Visa. This visa can be given to a close relative/family member or a friend of the patient. Please note that relevant letters/documents explaining details of the treatment, signed and stamped by the concerned hospitals/doctors, a declaration from the patient or an immediate family member is also required confirming the escort travel along with the patient.
What support services does MediGence provide in South Korea?
MediGence enables you to plan and manage your medical decisions better. These are some of our services offered:
  • Expert Opinion
    We help you seek an Expert Opinion on your diagnosis and treatment from an experienced team of doctors at MediGence and specialists from a reputable hospital.
  • Hospital Recommendation
    We recommend a hospital or a healthcare institution that is best suited for you, based on your ailment and its criticality.
  • 360-degree Hospital Review
    We give you a transparent and holistic view of the hospital and its infrastructure, accreditation, facilities, and expertise to give you confidence.
  • Doctor Validation and Communication
    We share a comprehensive profile of the treating doctor and also arrange a call to clear queries regarding treatment if needed.
  • Options to Choose From
    Based on your choice of destination and other preferences, we provide you multiple options with respect to hospitals and doctors to choose from.
  • 24X7 Patient Care Support
    A dedicated patient case manager stays in constant touch with you to help you at every step of the decision-making process and resolve queries that you may have.
  • Transparent Treatment Cost and Other Expenses
    We give a clear and accurate indication of the total cost of treatment including treatment, stay, meals, and other expenses.
  • Visa Assistance
    We provide and help prepare documentation for visa approval and coordinate with the embassy to expedite the visa process.
  • Accommodation Arrangements
    We propose to you a choice of accommodation based on your preference such as long stay, short stay, or luxury properties.
Which are the best cities in South Korea for medical treatment?
Treatment in South Korea is affordable. Seoul is the capital of South Korea and one of the main cities for healthcare. Seoul and Daegu have some of the best hospitals in South Korea. Busan, Incheon, and Ulsan also have developing healthcare facilities.

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