Low Cost Hip Replacement or Resurfacing Overseas May Be the Answer to Chronic Hip Pain

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Younger patients are choosing hip resurfacing over hip replacement surgery, but find that several surgeons overseas have longer track records with this relatively new procedure. WorldMed Assist (http://www.worldmedassist.com) helps patients determine which surgery is best for them, and gives patients options to choose among world renowned surgeons practicing at first-rate international hospitals.

With hip replacement, the surgeon removes the damaged and worn hip socket and ball, and replaces both with smooth, artificial implants to restore the hip's strength and flexibility

Patients with chronic hip pain seeking low cost hip replacement overseas often get bogged down with the array of choices, such as which country, which hospital and which surgeon. Unable to judge the quality of their options, patients often turn for help to a reputable medical tourism company, such as WorldMed Assist, a global health care facilitator based in Concord, California. WorldMed Assist has actually helped several of its younger, more active hip patients avoid hip replacement with a newer, less invasive procedure: hip resurfacing in India and Belgium.

WorldMed Assist CEO Wouter Hoeberechts advises patients whose insurance is inadequate to make surgery affordable in the U.S. and need to investigate overseas options to first visit an orthopedic surgeon near home for x-rays and advice. If hip surgery is required, WorldMed Assist can then help patients determine if they're candidates for hip resurfacing.

"With hip replacement, the surgeon removes the damaged and worn hip socket and ball, and replaces both with smooth, artificial implants to restore the hip's strength and flexibility," explained Hoeberechts. "A stem is installed into the thigh to support the implants. This surgery alters the hip's bone architecture and load balancing over time, and may require additional surgery after ten to fifteen years.

"Resurfacing, however, removes far less bone. A small shaving is taken off the top of the femur so it can accept a smooth metal cap which becomes the joint's new surface."

After Vicky Marlow of Fremont, California researched both replacement and resurfacing to alleviate pain from her osteoarthritis, she came to her own conclusion: "It's like the difference between pulling a tooth and doing a complete root canal (replacement) or crowning a tooth (resurfacing)."

She was young enough and her hip was healthy enough to make her a good candidate for resurfacing. Her research and personal experience with hip resurfacing led her to start an on-line forum, Surface Hippy, where patients around the world learn more about the differences between hip replacement and resurfacing and share experiences.

Many hip patients don't understand why their doctor at home didn't suggest resurfacing. Resurfacing is not the right solution for everyone with chronic hip pain. According to world renowned hip resurfacing surgeon Dr. Vijay Bose at Apollo Hospital in Chennai, India, "Resurfacing is a technique invented specifically for younger patients. Conventional Total Hip Replacement, or THR, is a better option for an elderly person, but because it can fail over time, it is a poor choice for young patients."

Another one of the world's top hip resurfacing surgeon is Dr. Kaushal Malhan. Also trained and UK board certified, he now performs hip surgeries at Wockhardt Hospital in Mumbai, India . Wockhardt in Mumbai is internationally accredited by JCI. Dr Malhan created the world famous Wockhardt hip resurfacing center there.

Another reason U.S. doctors might not have included resurfacing as an option is because it was approved by the FDA only in 2006, few U.S. surgeons have the track record of doctors in countries such as Belgium and India.

"For example, hip resurfacings by Dr. Koen de Smet's private clinic in Belgium total more than 3000. Dr. de Smet's experience has earned him a spot at the top of his field worldwide; and his skill lures surgeons from around the world eager to learn from him. Likewise, before settling back in India, Dr. Bose was on the ground floor of hip resurfacing at the Royal Orthopedic Hospital in Birmingham, England, where the procedure was invented," said Hoeberechts.

All three doctors are part of WorldMed Assist's network of carefully screened physicians offering lower cost, high quality orthopedic surgery overseas.

Patients who qualify for hip resurfacing cite several advantages:

  • Removes only unhealthy bone and replaces it with a metal on metal articulation. The femur head remains viable after surgery, so for example, they can squat or sit cross-legged without the risk of dislocation.
  • Everlasting, based on 35-year history of metal on metal implants.
  • Excellent restoration of full function.
  • Faster recovery and return to full activity levels.
  • Overall 99% success rate - ideal option for the younger or more active patient.

"For either hip replacement or resurfacing, patients should first and foremost choose a surgeon with a solid track record, then determine the total cost: travel, hospital fees, surgeon fees, and all add-on expenses," said Hoeberechts. "What will insurance, minus deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses, cover? It's sometimes difficult to gather all-inclusive costs in the U.S. because the primary players, such as surgeon, hospital, anesthesiologist and physical therapist, often bill patients separately. Be persistent, so you can learn if you're a candidate for high quality surgery abroad at a significant savings."    

Once a patient decides to use the services of a medical travel facilitator, Hoeberechts gives some tips on how to select the best provider. "Be sure the company that will handle every detail of your overseas arrangements, stay in constant contact with you and provide knowledgeable, professional service from first contact through full recovery. Find a company that has a well-managed and carefully researched and accredited network of partner hospitals, and will provide you with a total no-surprises-cost--inclusive of travel, lodging and all medical expenses. It's also important that the people who help you with your medical arrangements are medical professionals. WorldMed Assist patients have been consistent in their recommendations to others who are considering medical travel to save themselves the headaches and frustration of trying to go it alone with arrangements."

About WorldMed Assist
Experts in medical tourism, WorldMed Assist's mission is to improve lives by helping patients receive high quality medical treatment abroad at affordable prices. WorldMed Assist coordinates and simplifies every aspect of care and travel. Orthopedic surgery abroad is significantly less expensive than in the U.S., yet delivered with the same or higher quality care and results as set by U.S. standards. Waiting times are virtually eliminated, track records are proven, and facilities are state-of-the-art. For more information, visit http://www.worldmedassist.com. WorldMed Assist also offers medical travel to businesses seeking to lower the cost of their health plans while expanding options for employees.

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Robbie Neely
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