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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai doctor to provide spinal surgery screenings

Thai doctor to provide spinal surgery screenings

Doctor Verapan Kuansongtham, a Thai neurosurgeon and spine specialist at Bangkok’s Bumrungrad International Hospital, will be visiting Phnom Penh next month to provide free consultations to locals suffering from spinal distress.

In a trip organised by Bumrungrad and its local referral offices, Dr Verapan will be promoting his work in the treatment of spinal injuries through the use of endoscopic surgery.

The highly regarded specialist will be providing free consultations for patients in Cambodia with spinal afflictions, who will then be granted referrals for treatment at Bumrungrad.

After earning his medical degree at Thailand’s Ramathibodi Hospital, Dr Verapan completed a number of fellowships in Germany and the United States, where his research specialised on minimally invasive surgery.

Dr Verapan now serves as Director of the Bumrungrad Spinal Institute and trains doctors from around the world in the practice of endoscopic spinal surgery.

Spinal injury is one of the most common forms of musculoskeletal illness. Its  causes include repetitive heavy lifting, trauma resulting from traffic or workplace accidents, immobiilty resulting from working in office environments, and diseases such as polio and arthritis.   

While endoscopy – the use of a tiny video camera to examine a patient’s internal injuries – has been used as a diagnostic tool for decades, it is only in comparatively recent times that technological advances have allowed endoscopic surgery to be used as a treatment device.

The procedure allows a treating surgeon to make a smaller incision into a patient’s back, minimising the disruption of surrounding muscle tissue and shortening the amount of time it takes to recover.

The Bumrungrad Spine Institute and Dr Verapan have been instrumental in improving approaches to spinal surgery in the region.

“Our surgical team has been working with German doctors to improve techniques and procedures as well as to develop more advanced tools,” the doctor said in a press statement.

“So we have now reached the point of becoming a medical knowledge centre for endoscopy in Asia, with a team of surgeons capable of performing endoscopic spine surgeries for more than 95 per cent of cases of patients with herniated spinal discs and lumbar spinal stenosis.”

Last year, Bumrungrad treated over one million patients. Nearly half of these came from outside Thailand, according to the hospital.

With the burden of medical treatment costs in places like the United States and Australia, many residents of those countries find that travelling abroad for medical treatment is far preferable to the costs and delays they face by seeking surgery in their home countries.

In countries like Cambodia, an under-resourced domestic health system leads many wealthier locals to seek specialised medical treatment in neighbouring countries.

Thailand’s Bumrungrad Hospital has been a popular destination for those Cambodians who can afford treatment abroad.

Phnom Penh hosts three independent referral centres for Bumrungrad, with 15,000 patients from Cambodia travelling to the hospital for treatment in 2011.

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