Singapore Medicine Announces New Spinal Fusion Technique Gives Patients New Lease Of Mobility Freedom

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Patients with multiple disc-degeneration stages often suffer from intense pain. Although earlier forms of spinal fusion procedures help to relieve the pain to some measure, the relief is usually short-term.

The flexible part provides about five degrees of motion, sufficient to promote normal motion. Besides preventing problems with a hypermobile disc, the patient experiences less pain. More importantly, the patient is able to resume his or her normal activities quickly

A new spinal fusion technique, known as hybrid fusion, now provides patients with a permanent relief from the pain. Hybrid fusion is a breakthrough for patients, especially younger individuals, as the treatment will no longer be at the expense of their ability to lead an active lifestyle.

Launched worldwide in 2007, Raffles Hospital was one of the pioneer users of hybrid fusion in the Asia Pacific. To date, there were nine foreign and local patients who had undergone hybrid fusion at Raffles Hospital.

With a short downtime of just five days, patients can now look forward to regaining full mobility faster and experience less pain. Hybrid fusion also protects the adjacent level of the spine from degenerating. This is a crucial advancement in technology as adjacent level degeneration is the long-term effect of the older form of spinal fusion technique.

Hybrid fusion involves using a stiff section of a rod to treat the degenerated discs, while a welded flexible section extends further above to offer protection to the adjacent disc.

"The flexible part provides about five degrees of motion, sufficient to promote normal motion. Besides preventing problems with a hypermobile disc, the patient experiences less pain. More importantly, the patient is able to resume his or her normal activities quickly," said Dr David Wong, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon of Raffles Hospital.

Hypermobile describes the condition when joints move beyond their normal range with little effort, thereby causing instability.

According to Dr Wong, an estimated 20 percent of patients who undergo the older form of spinal fusion surgery are at risk of suffering from an adjacent level degeneration or disc disease within the next ten years.

"When fusion is done, the affected vertebrae become stiff and this lack of motion puts stress on the adjacent vertebra. The adjacent vertebra then becomes hypermobile to compensate for the lack of motion and this causes problems later on," Dr Wong enlightens.

Hybrid fusion is unique as it can adapt to multiple disc-degeneration stages. Most importantly, with this new procedure, the risk of adjacent level degeneration and instability, movement restriction and pain down the years is eliminated.

This technology is currently pending approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. An earlier form of spinal fusion procedure, without the advantages as described above, costs US$62,000 in the U.S., while hybrid fusion at only US$22,000 is both cheaper and more beneficial.

About Raffles Hospital

Raffles Hospital, the flagship hospital of Raffles Medical Group, is a 380-bed private tertiary hospital located in the heart of Singapore. The hospital provides a wide range of specialist medical and diagnostic services for both inpatients and outpatients. Representing 35 disciplines, its team of specialists constitutes a group practice combining sub-specialty expertise and teamwork to ensure optimal, affordable and high quality care for patients. It also has representative offices in Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh, as well as associates throughout the Asia-Pacific region

About the SingaporeMedicine Initiative

Launched in 2003, SingaporeMedicine is a multi-agency government-industry partnership committed to strengthening Singapore's position as Asia's leading medical hub and international health care destination.

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