Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

The healers with a tiny camera


Twelve years ago the German physician Dr. Sebastian Ruetten introduced a new advanced technique using a specially-designed endoscope to operate on herniated spinal discs or lumber spinal stenosis. 

In a press conference given at the Radisson Blu on Thursday, Dr. Verapan Kuansongtham, a neurosurgeon specializing in spine surgery, said that with these endoscopes the surgical field is minimized to 8mm, resulting in fewer traumas around the operative area. “It entails extreme carefulness because minor mistake would bring fatal consequences. To avoid this top-quality doctors are needed. When the operation is successful patients go home within 24 hours,” said the doctor.

Dr. Verapan who gave the procedures details added, “The operation involves a small incision, using a tiny camera to operate patients. In this way surgeons are capable of performing 95 percent of the operations on the patients with herniated spinal discs or lumber spinal stenosis. And this kind of treatment is recommended for patients with spinal disorders severe enough to cause pain and weaknesses in leg and arms.”  The new technique avoids a long body cut as in the case with the standard or traditional operations.

Verapan told journalists that he was personally trained by Dr. Sebastian Ruetten who pioneered this ultra modern and advanced technique of operations to the medical field. “After taking the training at the department of Spine surgery and Pain therapy at St. Anna hospital in Herne, Germany, we have now reached the point of becoming a medical knowledge centre for endoscopy in Asia and we train doctors coming from around the world including the United States of America for the full-endoscopic spine and cervical surgery,” he explained. He is now serving as the Director of Bumrungrad Spine Institute in Thailand.

Capital learnt that over one million patients get treatment at the Bangkok Bumrungrad International Hospital every year of which close to 500,000 are international patients from over 190 different countries. “Ethiopia’s share in the number of international patients is about 45 patients a month,” said Getu Gizaw, country representative of the Thailand based Bumrungrad International. The hospital has a turnover of USD 317 million in 2010. “The combination of high-tech equipment, top-notch doctors and low cost helps draw thousands of patients to our hospital,” said Dr. Verapan. He added that Bumrungrad International Hospital is Asia’s first internationally accredited hospital by the U.S-based Joint Commission International (JCI). Dr. Verapan and his team treat the thousands of patients who flock to Bumrungrad International Hospital from all over the world.

In his first trip to Addis Ababa, Dr. Verapan has given free consultations to patients and also conducted training for Ethiopian surgeons about the new techniques of Spine surgery for up to Sunday, June 17.

These days countries such as Thailand, Singapore, India, Hong Kong, Turkey, and Malaysia are indeed preferred destinations for patients across the world. These hospitals treat ‘patients without borders’ from America, Europe and the Middle Eastern countries.