Disc replacement helps man sit up after one year

Apr 12, 2012, 07:29 IST | Priyanka Vora

Orthopaedic surgeons at KEM hospital performed the new and challenging surgery on a 53-year-old man to correct his multi-level cervical disc disease without robbing him of his mobility

Civic-run hospitals are fast catching up with private medical facilities in the city, keeping abreast of new techniques and procedures at the cutting edge of medical science. Ask Narendra Jha, a school peon from Patna, who is enjoying the simple, almost obvious pleasure of sitting up, after having lain in bed for over a year.

Back to basics: Less than a week after undergoing the intricate procedure, peon Narendra Jha is slowly regaining mobility. Doctors are hopeful that he will be able to walk again

The 53-year-old was suffering from a medical condition known as multi-level cervical disc disease, causing his spinal cord to degenerate, robbing him of his mobility. Last week, he underwent a disc replacement surgery at KEM hospital, making him only the third person to undergo the complex new procedure at the facility.

“I could not even hold a cup of tea, and was completely bed-ridden for almost a year,” recalled Jha, who is recuperating now. The condition is difficult to treat, and KEM was the first civic-run hospital in the city to perform disc replacement surgery to cure it.

Complicated op
Dr Pradeep Bhosale, head of KEM’s orthopaedic department, said, “Conventionally, in such cases we would fuse the vertebrae, which would lead to partial loss in movement of the spine. In order to retain movement, the disc undergoes replacement instead of fusion, which helps the patient to move the neck.”

Jha had first lost mobility of his right hand, which resulting in a frustrating inability to grip objects. As the disease progressed, he could not even balance himself while walking, and was ultimately laid up completely. “I had stopped going to work. We consulted a few doctors in Patna and they advised an operation. But my son, who stays in Mumbai, said that I should come down to Mumbai for a consultation. So I came here, and today I can at least sit up,” said Jha.

Explaining the surgery, Dr Sandeep Sonone, said, “His spinal cord had degenerated at two levels. If we had operated in the conventional method, we would have fused both these joints, leading to major loss of mobility. So instead we opted for disc replacement at one level, while at the other level we fused the joint. His condition has improved significantly.”

Catching up fast
Dr Sonone, associate professor in the orthopaedic department, said, “Earlier, this operation was only available at the private hospitals, but now we are training our resident doctors to perform this technique, which is beneficial for retaining mobility in patients. An increasing number of people are suffering from multi-level cervical diseases owing to sedentary lifestyles. And younger people are being diagnosed with this condition. For such people, the benefits of this surgery are invaluable, as it does not affect mobility at all.” 

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