The municipality’s lung surgery programme for tuberculosis (TB) patients has achieved a milestone, with 100 patients having been successfully operated on by the team of honorary surgeons at Group of TB (GTB) Hospital. Between March 2012 and January this year, the team has operated on 73 drug-sensitive TB patients and 27 with drug-resistant TB.
The surgery programme was re-launched after a gap of six years amid much fanfare by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) health department in 2012 on World TB Day.
In the 1960s, GTB hospital used to operate on 200 TB patients annually on an average --- a figure which had dropped over time. Today, GTB Hospital is the only public facility in the country to perform surgeries on TB patients.
"The objective behind reviving the programme was to help patients who continued to harbour TB bacilli despite treatment. Having undergone surgery, many patients respond relatively better to drugs. Some of them have been completely cured of the infection,” said Dr Lalit Anande, chief medical officer at GTB.
The surgical team includes surgeons Dr H Bhanushali and Dr Sushil Shirodkar and anaesthetist Dr Krishna Joshi. During the surgery, doctors surgically remove the diseased part of the lung or, in some cases, the entire lung, provided the other lung is healthy.
“Patients whose lungs have suffered irreversible damage which cannot be cured with medication qualify for surgical intervention,” said Shirodkar, professor emeritus at the hospital.
However, the hospital administration is concerned that the programme may not continue with much vigour as young doctors are shying away from training. “We don’t have resident doctors who can get trained by the skilled team. There are resident doctors who are serving a bond and may not necessarily pursue surgery on TB patients,” said Dr R Nanavare, medical superintendent at the hospital.
* 47% of patients who were operated on by the team were in the age group of 21-30 years
* 50% of those operated on were residents of Mumbai
* 77% of those operated on were men