Leeladhar Joshi (60) from Uttarakhand was afflicted with a condition so rare that so far worldwide only 10 such cases have been reported — hernia of the spinal cord.
Joshi arrived at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (Aiims) with a one-centimetre long section of his spinal cord, slightly bigger than the size of a peanut, jutting out of the middle of his back.
"You cannot just push it back as it can lead to loss of limb movement. It's a tough surgery," said Dr P Sarat Chandra, additional professor, department of neurosurgery at AIIMS, who led a four-member team through this four-hour surgery last week. The surgery cost R2 lakh.
The hernia was the result of a surgery gone wrong 15 years ago, when Joshi was operated upon for a benign mass that had developed on the surface of his spinal cord. "After removing the mass, the covering was not closed properly. There was a gap between the stitches from where the fluid that acts as a cushion between the bone cage and the cord started coming out. Over time, constant pressure inside the spinal canal pushed a portion of it towards the surface," said Dr Chandra.
Since the process was slow, it took 11 years for Joshi to develop symptoms such as weakness in legs, progressive loss of sensation in his lower limbs, and an occasional tingling feeling.
"Over the past four years, he consulted more than 25 hospitals, but no one agreed to operate. They said he was too old to survive a surgery. Surgeons here have given him a new lease of life," said BP Sharma, Joshi's nephew.
Joshi now needs regular physiotherapy sessions to get his natural movement back.