Rare Hip Replacement in India for American Medical Tourist


United States of America, 10 June 09-

An American expat got a new lease of movement after a rare hip replacement at the India Madras Joint Replacement center( MJRC)

Mr. Leonardo B, a graphic designer from New York got a designer joint for his arthritic hip in Chennai, India. The innovative Proxima hip was implanted by Dr.A.K.Venkatachalam a British qualified orthopedic surgeon from the Madras Joint Replacement center.

Mr. Leonardo who turned 60 last December had come down with bilateral hip arthritis and was unable to enjoy life. Hailing from New York, he is settled in Spain now. He is one of several Americans expatriates who lacking medical insurance. Hospitals in New York shunned him when he sought treatment for knee and thigh pain. A diagnosis took a while to arrive as it didn’t cross the mind of the doctors that he met in a New York hospital to get hip x rays when he complained of thigh and knee pain. Often pain arising in the hip is first perceived in the knee on account of a common nerve supply.

He sought bilateral hip resurfacings in India in 2008 from Dr.Venkatachalam. This Joint replacement specialist performed a right hip resurfacing late last year. However the left hip had deteriorated to an extent to preclude a resurfacing. Mr. Leonardo was not keen to have a hip replacement as this would restrict his movements and had a risk of dislocation. His surgeon offered him a Proxima hip which has a unique design. It is not available in the United States. Moreover costs of a Hip replacement in the US are priced above $50,000.

Hip arthritis strikes middle aged and elderly Caucasians. Its treatment has been a total hip replacement in those over 70 as the prosthesis is expected to outlive its recipient. In a total hip replacement, surgeons cut the head and neck portion of the upper end of the thigh bone (femur) and implant a stemmed metal prosthesis into the bone. A cup is fixed into the socket of the pelvic bone.

However younger people afflicted by hip arthritis will outlive a conventional hip replacement and will need additional surgery later on. To skirt around these problems there are other alternatives to a total hip replacement which have better longevity.

Better materials, bone preservation, navigational aids are all used to increase the longevity of a joint replacement.

One such implant is the Proxima hip. This is a mini total hip. The stem portion of the total hip prosthesis is done away with and the prosthesis is impacted in the metaphysic of the femur. Bone in the neck of femur is not cut away as in a THR. Large diameter metal on metal (MOM) or Ceramic on metal bearings can be coupled to the stem to achieve a very durable joint. It is particularly useful when a resurfacing cant’ be done on account of advanced bone loss or presence of cavities in bone.

Designed by an Italian surgeon and launched in the international market in 2002, the hip has more than a decade’s follow up. It was introduced in South India by Dr.Venkatachalam in 2006.

This is the first time in India that this prosthesis has been used for an American patient.

Mr. B will spend a week in hospital and then recuperate in a lovely sea side resort.

Hemmed by the recession, Americans like Mr. Leonardo are seeking treatment abroad. The attractions of having a surgery abroad are many. No doubt will you be able to save 70 percent from your hospital bill; you will get an equivalent or better personalized service than in an American hospital. Indian surgeons like Dr. Venkatachalam of have been trained in the UK. The driving force in medical tourism is not only costs but availability of innovative procedures. Americans being consumerists are always looking out for best quality & value. Mr Leonardo can now boast to a friend back home that he has now got a Ferrari hip in India in comparison to his Dodge hip.

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