By Jepkemei Bett
Reale Hospital in Eldoret County has introduced arthroscopic surgery, a cutting edge procedure that orthopedic surgeons use to inspect, diagnose and repair problems inside a joint. Health Business recently visited Reale Hospital and witnessed how this surgery is done and how it helps patients to get a better quality of life.
We managed to talk to Dr. Harsh Vadgama who specializes in the surgery and joined him during one of the procedures. Arthroscopy is a procedure that orthopaedic surgeons use to inspect, diagnose, and repair problems inside a joint.
Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, Dr. Harsh Vadgama uses very small incisions (cuts), rather than the larger incision needed for standard, open surgery. This results in less pain for patients, and shortens the time it takes to recover and return to favorite activities. Shoulder arthroscopy has been performed since the 1970s.
It has made diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from surgery easier and faster than was once thought possible. Improvements to shoulder arthroscopy occur every year as new instruments and techniques are developed. Dr. Vadgama stated that Reale Hospital has supported the use of this technology and helped many patients who could not afford to go to India or had to go to Nairobi.
One such patient was Gladys (Name withheld) who had been suffering from a recurrent shoulder dislocation after a fall. She was unable to do any basic household activities because of the instability like washing clothes as the shoulder would “pop” out. Dr. Vadgama rectified the problem using this technology.
The instruments used were provided for by a leading German sports Medicine Company being represented by VanMed Ltd, the exclusive partners of Arthrex in East Africa. “We provide the camera system, instrumentation used for the procedure, the implants used during the repair and the sutures. Some of it we sell to the hospital, others we just bring in specifically for this procedure,” noted Vanmed General Manager Rowan Tyler.
Arthrex specialises in soft tissue repairs and reconstruction. Mr Tyler said they have been operating in the country since October 2016 and have been able to work with about 40 surgeons throughout the country.
He strongly vouchers for the products being supplied by Arthrex stating that thecompany is extremely innovative, and the biggest sports medicine company in the world. “They Re-invest into research and development of new surgical techniques and products,” he explained. They are currently able to assist in carrying out 150 arthroscopic surgeries per month in the country.
Today, minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is a viable alternative to many of the conventional open surgical procedures. It guarantees the patient shorter hospital stay, recovery period and reduced scarring due to the use of small incisions and ultimately less costly.
The technique, referred to as key hole surgery,is also one of the most preferred treatment approaches for joint problems of the foot, ankle, knee, hip, wrist and elbow. Dr Vadgama is one of the few wrist surgeons in the country dealing with arthroscopy, and has so far been able to carry out almost 220 various arthroscopic surgeries in a span of two years.
He carries out his surgeries in Reale Hospital, which he applauds for their commitment to supporting minimally invasive surgeries. “So far Reale has been able to procure all the necessary equipments including the state of the art camera system which makes it more affordable,” he noted. He added: “Initially we would do one surgery a month now we’ve progressed to five a week in Reale.
The hospital offers first class treatment which is no different than the treatment given in India, Europe and the USA.” The hospital is also National Hospital Insurance Fund accredited, hence eases the financial burden on the patients. In Kenya there are only about 12 arthroscopic surgeons dealing with the knee and shoulder, three are in the Rift Valley region.
It is however expensive training the surgeon. The specialised training, which takes two years, after six years of under graduate and four years post graduate, costs more than Sh4 million. Dr. Vadgama said the Rift Valley region being the city of champions is an excellent area because arthroscopic is basically sports medicine which assists in treating several of the athletes and putting them back on track. “We need almost 30 specialists in the rift valley region”, he said.