Patients who have had conventional spinal surgery usually require strong medication like opiods to counteract the intense pain. This, however, often resulted in bouts of nausea which added to the discomfort.
Traditionally, spinal surgery also means a long hospital stay since patients remain immobile for up to seven days. With minimally invasive techniques, the time spent in hospital is effectively halved.
So far, at least five types of spinal problem can be corrected with keyhole surgery. This includes spinal decompression, fusion and fixation of certain fractures, some cases of scoliosis and herniated disc or "slipped disc".
With a clear list of benefits, it comes as no surprise that interest in minimally invasive spinal surgery has been on the rise amongst patients. Some, like Mr Patrick Perreault, brave long trips to have their backaches treated here.
The 50-year-old Canadian endured a 36-hour flight from his remote hometown in Montreal to see Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Tan Chong Tien at Mount Elizabeth Hospital.
An electric power lineman, Patrick hurt his back when he fell 42 feet to the ground from an electric pole. What followed were many agonising years of excruciating back pain and an ever expanding cocktail of painkillers.
Fed up with having to give up one active hobby after another, he finally decided to seek alternative treatment overseas and picked Singapore.
Patrick recounts, "I eventually decided on Singapore, based on the country's long list of advantages over other destinations."
Dr Tan diagnosed that Patrick
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