THERE IS good news on the backbone front. Getting a fractured verterbra repaired has become quicker and much cheaper. The procedure costs just a little over Rs 10,000 now against Rs 90,000 earlier.
Neuro-trauma patients can now drive in with a broken bone and, in a few minutes, drive out of hospital with corrected vertebra.
A city-based neurosurgeon has developed this low-cost surgical procedure for treating expensive vertebral injury. The new procedure relies on Vertroplasty, a technique used for treating bone tumour and osteoporosis. Traditionally, treatment of vertebral fracture demands open surgery with an incision up to 5 centimeters.
The cost involved is at least Rs 80,000, where Rs 45,000 is required for a metal plate to fix the bones, Rs 25,000 for the operation and another Rs 10,000 for month-long post-operative care at hospital. If the charges for the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and other tests for the operation are included, the entire cost will come to around Rs 90,000.
But the new procedure requires just a needle and bone cement. The bone cement is placed on the fractured part with help of the needle that costs Rs 10.
If charges for MRI and other tests are included, the entire procedure costs Rs 10,010 per patient.
Dr DK Vatsal, former neuro-surgeon at the King George’s Medical University, performed this operation on an 18-year-old girl Priya.
She was injured in an accident, while driving her two-wheeler last month.
The girl’s Lumber-1, the 20th bone in the spinal cord, was fractured, giving her unbearable pain in the lower abdomen and making her long for death.
The L-1 is the lower tip of the spinal cord (conus medullaris). Injury to the lumbar and upper sacral spinal cord can even damage the moto-neurons.
“The treatment available was bed rest for three months. But keeping her age and pain in mind, we decided to go in for repair. We wanted to keep the cost down to the bare minimum,” said Dr Vatsal who performed the surgery with the help of local anaesthesia at KK Hospital.
After confirming the status of injury with the help of X-ray and MRI, the team of doctors used a Jimshidi needle to put bone cement on L-1 to repair the fracture.
This rid the girl of pain instantly. She could even walk freely. The surgery took a couple of minutes.
“This surgical procedure can be very handy in trauma cases. In most accident cases, spinal injury is very common,” said Dr Vatsal who mentioned the procedure in an international journal.