If you have heard of medical tourism then you know it is the phenomenon that can buy you top-notch medical care at rock bottom prices with virtually zero waiting times. And you are probably also aware that India is one of the most popular medical travel destinations. What is great about India is you can get not only high quality care for low price but also certain unique treatments that not many other nations in the world offer, especially if you also factor in the unbeatable price. In the article below we talk about hip resurfacing surgery in India – a unique medical breakthrough technique for the treatment of hip pathology.

THE NEED FOR HIP RESURFACING
Your hip is a ball and socket joint. Both the ball and socket are covered by a protective layer of cartilage which makes the joint smooth and hip movements swift.

Any condition that damages this cartilage leads to pain, dysfunction and eventually arthritis. Injury, infection, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and bone dysplasias are some reasons that can cause damage to this cartilage thereby necessitating a hip resurfacing surgery.

Traditionally, such issues have been addressed by a total hip replacement (THR) which is a surgery to replace the hip joint by a prosthetic implant. A THR removes part of your healthy bone so the implant can be fixed deeply into the femoral bone. Patients also have certain movement restrictions following a THR surgery.

By contrast, resurfacing, which is a less invasive bone-preserving technology, replaces only the worn, diseased and damaged surfaces of the hip joint, and places an all-metal “ball and socket” implant in the hip joint. Resurfacing allows return to normal and sporting activities post-surgery, reduces the risk of dislocation and makes revision easy (if at all needed).

These reasons make hip resurfacing more favourable over hip replacement in certain specific cases. The anatomy and bio-mechanics after resurfacing mimic a normal hip very closely making it an ideal choice for young or more active patients with non-inflammatory degenerative hip joint disease.

HOW IS A HIP RESURFACING SURGERY PERFORMED?

Birmingham hip resurfacing implant

Birmingham hip resurfacing implant (Image source: Smith & Nephew)


After separating the femur or thigh bone from the hip socket, your surgeon reshapes the head of the femur. Next, the diseased bone and cartilage are removed from the hip socket.

Then, the implant, which comprises of two parts – the metal shell component for the hip socket, and the metal ball component with a short stem for the thigh bone, is placed.

First, the metal shell implant is firmly pressed onto the hip socket. After this the surgeon drills a hole in the femur (so the stem of the femur implant can be fitted into it), fills the metal ball component with bone cement, and fits the ball on top of the thigh bone with its stem into the drilled hole.

Finally, the femur with its new metal head and the hip socket with its new metal shell are put together to form a new resurfaced ball and socket hip joint that looks and functions like a normal hip.

HIP RESUFACING SURGERY AND INDIA
In India, hip surgeons have been practicing the hip resurfacing procedure for over a decade while orthopaedic surgeons in most of the rest of the world are still new to this procedure.

In the United States, for instance, where this procedure is still not commonly performed, FDA approved the first hip resurfacing system only in 2006. It is no wonder then that surgeons in India are much more experienced in this procedure than their counterparts in America.

Today, the majority of hip resurfacing operations are performed in India on Indian as well as foreign patients. Each year thousands of hip resurfacing medical tourists from all across the globe head to India to not only be in safe hands but also enjoy a tremendous amount of savings.

You can find top hip resurfacing hospitals in India that are Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited. Additionally, several of the best Indian orthopaedic doctors are also either educated or trained internationally.

Taj Mahal, India

Taj Mahal, India

Hip resurfacing costs about USD8000 in India . This is so less compared to what U.S. hospitals charge for the same kind of service and quality that you can bring a companion along, spend on sightseeing and still save thousands of dollars.

OVERSEAS PATIENT TO INDIA FOR HIP RESURFACING
Richard, who hails from California, USA, had been suffering from osteoarthritis in his hips for a long time but was unable to get surgery in the United States, earlier because of unavailability of the procedure in the country and later because of the extravagant price tag it came at.

Facilitated by Healthbase, Richard had both his hips resurfaced through bilateral hip resurfacing surgery at Wockhardt Hospitals (now Fortis Hospital) in Mumbai, India, 3 years ago.

Richard after his surgery in India

Richard after his surgery in India (Image source: Healthbase Online Inc., http://www.healthbase.com)

Being an avid sportsperson that he was, barely 12 weeks after his hip surgeries, Richard returned to snorkelling in the sunny Southern Californian beaches. In the past, Richard had problems walking from his car to his front door.

MEDICAL TRAVEL TIPS FOR HIP RESURFACING PATIENTS
Here are the top 5 things every medical tourist needs to do or remember for a successful medical travel trip:

  1. Verify the credentials of the foreign doctor treating you.
  2. Don’t let cost be the driving factor; focus on quality.
  3. Keep your local doctor in the loop.
  4. Don’t keep your trip too short; allow time for recuperation as well as sightseeing.
  5. Engage the services of a medical travel facilitator like Healthbase. These are specialized medical travel agents that connect you with the hospital of your choice while providing all or some other valuable concierge services like detailed information about various procedures, detailed hospital profiles and surgeon profiles, medical records transfer, free surgery quote, pre- and post-consultation with the overseas hospital, feedback and testimonials from previous patients, medical and dental loan financing, passport and visa acquisition, airport pick-up and drop-off, hospital escort, tickets, travel insurance, hotel booking, sightseeing services in the destination country, etc.
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Medical tourism, which is the practice of traveling from one place to another for medical care, is no longer limited to patients seeking conventional treatments such as hip resurfacing, spine fusion, knee replacement, heart bypass, lap band, cosmetic surgeries, or dental treatments. Today, many are going overseas to seek “unconventional” medical tourism treatments such as those for cancer.

Cancer patients may be driven abroad by low prices but what remains the prime motivator is the easy accessibility to the latest technology at overseas cancer hospitals.

COMPARING THE US AND ABROAD
Without a doubt USA is the pioneer of the latest medical technologies and the country invests heavily in cancer researches. Such developments have provided remedies for previously irremediable diseases, thereby prolonging and improving the lives of the critically ill. However, these advancements remain beyond the means of those who lack health insurance, simply because of the price tag at which they come, in the US anyway.

But, in India or Singapore or Turkey, for instance, not only are the same state-of-the-art technologies being used, the treatments are offered at a much lesser price making them accessible to a greater part of the populace. It is not uncommon, therefore, to see surgeons in Asia working behind the gamma knife or the CyberKnife or the da Vinci robotic surgical system, treating patients from all over the world and offering their services at a much discounted rate as compared with US rates.

COMMON CANCERS AND THEIR TREATMENTS OVERSEAS
Cancer hospitals abroad treat all types of cancers. Though most types of cancers are suitable for overseas treatment, a patient’s candidacy can only be decided on an individual basis. The more common ones that patients go abroad to cure are prostate cancer, breast cancer and thyroid cancer.

There are several types of cancer therapies available today. Some of them are: surgery, radiotherapy (RT), chemotherapy, palliative therapy, etc. The specific treatment plan designed by the foreign doctor will depend on: (1) the type of cancer, (2) its stage, (3) whether it has metastasized to other parts of the body, (4) the patient’s overall physical health, and so on. The doctor may decide to give a combination of various types of therapies to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.

Following are some examples of cancer treatments given abroad to remove the cancer from the body and to treat the symptoms of the disease:
(1) Surgical resection of the affected organ followed by radiotherapy or chemotherapy to remove any remaining cancer cells.
(2) Depending on distant metastases state and the pathology report, the doctor might use palliative or aggressive radiation therapy.
(3) A high dose IMRT of primary and lymph nodes (LNs).

ISSUES WITH SEEKING CANCER TREATMENT ABROAD
As is well known, the quality of care offered abroad is on par with what is available in the United States. So the treatment quality is not a concern. But what might be of concern is the duration of the treatment.

When you go overseas for a surgery such as a hip resurfacing or a heart surgery, you usually need to spend no more than 2 to 3 weeks in the host country. That’s true for most of the procedures you seek abroad. But in the case of cancer treatment, the duration of the treatment is a big concern. The treatment plan that the oncologist or the doctor designs can run over a period of several months. This means longer stays for the international patient and his companion which in turn translates to higher expenditure on accommodation. To resolve this and to generate more savings, Healthbase recommends seeking long-term accommodation in service apartments instead of hotels as the former cost much less.

Even with higher expenses on accommodation factored into the cost, the resulting savings on treating cancer abroad can amount to approximately 40-80% when compared with the cost of treatment in the United States. For an accurate cost estimate and arrangement of cancer treatment abroad, check out the Healthbase website.

Now you can get medical tourism type price and quality for procedures received in the US.

How is that possible?
Because Healthbase has partnered with several US healthcare providers that offer procedures at very competitive prices that are comparable to what American-accredited foreign providers offer.

So now affordable high quality medical care is made available closer to home for patients from the US, Canada and Mexico. Patients from European countries and other nations looking for top quality care in the United States also stand to benefit from this partnership.

According to Saroja Mohanasundaram, CEO of Healthbase,

Majority of our clients from North America are drawn to medical tourism for the cost advantage it offers. However, some may not be able to take advantage of it due to the travel involved. So Healthbase has negotiated with US-based providers to offer the same top US-standard quality of care to our customers at a much reduced rate than what is prevailing. Hence, those who need quick access to top quality healthcare can avail of the low prices right here at home.

We all know that US providers charge a much higher rate to uninsured patients than they do to insured patients or insurers. But not anymore. A heart bypass tagged at over $100,000 (for uninsured patients) can now be had for an 85% discount. Such rates also closely match the lower foreign rates.

Mohanasundaram adds,

Our US providers offer a complete slew of services in all departments of medicine including cardiac (heart bypass, valve replacement, aneurysm repair), orthopedic (hip replacement, total knee replacement), general surgery, diagnostics, and so on

Who to contact for discounts on major procedures conducted within the US?
Healthbase

Further reading:
News release from Healthbase about this partnership

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