There are various spinal diseases in the world and various therapeutic approaches to treat the diseases. Conservative therapies include handed down folk remedies, natural remedies, alternative medicines, oriental remedies, exercise rehabilitation therapies, physical therapy, drug therapy and injection therapy, and hundreds of meditative pain therapies and surgical treatments.
It is difficult for doctors to decide which diagnosis method has to be selected under a certain criteria and which treatment principles and criteria have to be applied for patient treatment. About 90% of Spinal disc patients could have improvement through the following non surgical therapies: drug therapy, physical therapy, oriental remedies, exercise rehabilitation therapy, chiropody, massage, acupuncture & herbal therapy, pain blocking injection therapy, endoscopic therapy, and Computed Tomography guided nerve blocking, but many patients visit a hospital after a prolonged struggle with spinal pain having neglected the most appropriate early treatment.
The problem is the rest of the 10% of spinal disc patients will not recuperate by using those conservative therapies. Most of these patients are chronic spinal patients having problems at work and in their daily lives for more than 6 months, or an acute spinal disc patient who could not bear the pain even with the injection of a pain reliever, or a spinal disc patient having difficulties passing urine and feces with paralysis in four limbs causing difficulty in walking.
They urgently require more precise and fundamental treatment. If a nerve disorder lasts for more than 3 to 6 months, a permanent neurological syndrome will be made as like an un-erasable scar. It is truly heartbreaking to see such permanent lasting pain in the four limbs.
However, many patients hesitate to have early treatments due to the fear of the risks of conventional textbook level of standard spinal surgery. These include the rare risk of failure to regain consciousness or even death by anesthesia, the worries of having a blood transfusion, the burden of long term medical treatment, and other complications after surgery.
Conventional surgery involves the dissection of normal bones and stretching of normal muscle to remove spinal disc disease, with the real desire of spinal patients with urgent requirement of treatment is to have minimally invasive spinal treatment to return back to work or daily life without having much scarring after surgery. In other words, I wanted a ‘Normal tissue conservation’ and ‘Transfusionless’ treatment.
Spinal Disc Microtherapy uses a needle or catheter (tube) type of an endoscope for the enlarged illumination to enable precise treatment with minimum scarring. Through the monitor, the image is amplified and the location of the lesion is precisely probed by using Computed Tomography (CT), a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) system or a Computer Navigation system before treating the lesion by using drugs, laser, high density ultrasound and nucleotome, spine hydrojet, a small thin size automatic aspirator and with radio frequency heat. Namely, it is the technique to remove pathological lesions whilst preserving normal tissue.
By 1990, microscopes and endoscopes had been actively applied for the surgery of brain vessels, brain tumors and for the surgery of cerebral ventricle lesions. By applying these brain surgery tools to spinal disc treatments, spinal surgery was faced with a turning point. As the spine surgeons have introduced unrequired bloodtransfusion micro invasive therapy as in cerebral surgeries, spinal disease patients, especially for those of elderly people could have hope for a cure.
The reduction in size of incision resulted in reduction of muscular damage, and normal nucleus was preserved as much as possible to the benefit of the patient. So, the method of preserving maximum amount of nucleus by using an endoscope was performed in spinal surgery.
The scope of minimally invasive spinal disc therapy is not limited to the removal of spinal disc pain improvement of nerve disability. If a patient has improved from pain in the legs but still feels discomfort in the waist, they can not be seen as rehabilitated.
Minimally invasive spinal therapy has an ultimate goal to enable spinal patients to participate in physical activities, sports, exercise, sexual life, walking and all daily activities as those of a healthy person. This is why minimally invasive spinal disc therapy tries to preserve spinal bone, waist muscle and disc tissue as much as possible.
The practice of such spinal disc microtherapy without incision and minimally invasive transfusionless spinal surgery requires much experience and it takes more than five to six years of full time training even after qualification as a specialist. Additionally, it could not be applied onto all spinal diseases. To be able to select appropriate patients for each surgical method and provide them with an appropriate therapy, a physician has to receive a special training course (fellowship, full-time physician) for at least two years and needs to have experience of participating in micro treatment spine research conferences more than fifty times with the experience of observing the surgery.
In addition, doctors require to have research and work experience of at least five years in a minimally invasive therapy specialized hospital. In particular surgery for elderly patients, weak patients with diabetes or heart disease, and people who have to return back to work immediately after surgery has to be performed by a specially trained physician.
According to worldwide literature reviews, the success rate of 5,000 cases of performing automated percutaneous discectomy by using a nucleotome was proved to be more than 80%. Ten years of surgical experiences accompanied with the continuous monitoring by using an endoscope and the development of specialized surgical instruments allowed spine specialists to perform surgery by continuously observing the removal of the disc herniated nucleus and to observe the intradural cavity of nerves, which allowed confirming the removal of herniated disc lumps, and also allowed decompressing the part of bone extrusion and the nerve cavity due to stenosis.
So far, there have been no cases of death resulting from this minimally invasive surgery, no cases of complication from general anesthesia used in the surgery, and blood transfusion is not required. The morbidity rate has remained within the 1% range, while patient satisfaction has ranged as high as 80∼94%. Consequently, more patients are becoming interested in this minimally invasive surgery, for the reasons that it can be given in day surgery, ancillary use of lasers, scarring is minimal, the recuperation time is short, the treatment & hospitalization fees are low, and a speedy return to work is possible.
The method of treating disc disease by using an endoscope after making a 6.5mm diameter hole in the skin, the micro disc therapy conducted by the Wooridul hospital in Korea provides the highest level of performance out of the entire spine specializing hospitals around the world.
Owing to such characteristics, even the medical practitioners of medically developed countries often come to the Wooridul Hospital for the surgery on themselves. The number of patients in the hospital has been increasing every year by about 30%. Of those about 58% are the patients from the member states of the OECD, proving its medical skills of world recognition. Devotion of the hospital to research also has been producing more than 20 publications in the SCI journals every year.
Now, with the medical skills of world highest quality, in addition to 4 distinct seasons as well as 5000 years of history that have made Korea a famous place for tour – there would be no reason for hesitation to choose Korea as a site for medical tour.
Dr. Gun Choi, MD, PhD is the President of Wooridul International Spine Hospital located in Seoul, Korea and also the President of Wooridul Non-invasive Spine Treatment Center. Dr. Choi can be reached via E-Mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 82-2-2660-7692.