American banker Dennis Gribauskas (58) suffered from excruciating pain in his lower back and legs for two-and-a-half years.
A three-hour surgery at Bombay Hospital, Marine Lines on May 4 corrected the instability in Gribauskas’s spine and helped him resume his active lifestyle.
Going against the conventional method where a spine defect is corrected by inserting a metal rod between two vertebrae, doctors used a flexible titanium rod to fuse together the unstable vertebrae.
This technique ensured that Gribauskas’ movements are not restricted.
“Swimming and hiking are two activities that I enjoy very much and I was told by the doctors back in the US that I wouldn’t be able to continue these after the surgery. Being a working man, I didn't want my movement to be restricted and searched all over the world until I found a doctor who could do such a procedure,” said Gribauskas.
Doctors in the city said the hectic urban lifestyle has made degenerative diseases of the spine more common among the working population, increasing the demand for such alternative procedures to preserve the mobility of the patient’s spine.
Dr Arvind Kulkarni, consultant spinal surgeon at Bombay Hospital, who treated Gribauskas said these procedures were recommended to only four to five per cent of the patients in the city.
“Due to the high cost of such implants and the lack of a long term study on their efficacy, doctors prefer to go by the age old method. However, with the increasing need to stay active and an increasing awareness, more patients are going in for such procedures,” he said.
“Due to a fast paced life, people in the city do not pay attention to the needs of their body. They don't get enough exercise, travel for long periods of time on uneven roads, and grow obese, putting extra strain on their spine.
This causes their spine to wear out faster,” said Dr P.S. Ramani, president of the Spine Committee of World Neurosurgery and senior consultant neurospinal surgeon at Lilavati Hospital. “Improvements in technology and better implants have made it possible to treat these problems while retaining the mobility of the patients,” he said.
Another such case was that of Vasudha Kulkarni, who had suffered a slip disc and was operated for it at Lilavati Hospital on May 6. “I couldn't stand up before the surgery, but now I can even walk about. The doctor has said that I can return to work in 15 days,” said the 50-year-old SBI branch manager from Govandi.
Doctors had implanted a clip to stabilise her spine, which had degenerated.