Posted by mmglobal December 2005, Braintalk spinal disorders forum:

Greetings from Straubing Germany!

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to observe a Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS) procedure with Dr. Regan and his colleagues at the new Doctor's Hospital in Century City (Southern California). I've seen plenty of lumbar and cervical procedures, but this was the first thoracic procedure I've seen. I've also seen many different types of endoscopic and microscopic procedures. While similar to endoscopic, the video assisted procedure was quite impressive. Using minimally invasive techniques, several working portals, about an inch in diameter were created. One portal was used for the camera and light source. Other portals were used for tools, with the surgeons viewing the work they were doing on the monitors. A lung was gently deflated and moved out of the way, while the other lung functioned normally. The 'cavern' created, with the ribs, muscles and other tissues in clear view was amazing. Then, watching the discectomy and fusion procedure unfold in front of me (on the monitors) was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen. Understanding what the alternative procedure for a thoracic interbody fusion is, makes the value of this procedure very apparent.

I've been very fortunate to get to observe many of the worlds leading spine surgeons performing some of the newest procedures with the newest technology. This surgery was notable for many reasons. I really had the feeling that I was observing one of the greats in the field because this technique was pioneered by Dr. Regan. He performed the first VATS procedure back in 1991 with tools manufactured to his specifications. While the VATS concept is not new technology, it is certainly state-of-the-art, with the techniques and equipment being constantly refined. Thoracic spine surgery is especially challenging and many thoracic patients face problems and options that are different from lumbies and cervies. It's nice to see that for some of us... minimally invasive procedures are excellent options.

(A brief write-up on VATS is in Regan's website, - click on thoracic disc herniation from the menu at the very bottom of the page.)


PS... The new facilities at Doctor's Hospital really nice..... first class rooms (all private) with first class equipment. Menu by Wolfgang Puck. It creates a problem because the visitors are eating the patients' food... not a problem with ordinary hospital food. Interactive screen at each bed let's users interface with hospital staff, select menus, watch movies, etc... Very cool! Operating Theatre is equally impressive... especially for the VATS surgery, with big flat-screens instead of the usual CRT's.... laminar airflow... all the latest and greatest. (Not what many of us are used to!) I don't know about the financial implications are for the patients, but my understanding is that they will be taking most insurance and that our costs will be comparable to a standard, mega-corporation-owned hospital. I know that cash-pay ADR procedures are competitive with anywhere I've seen in the US.
1997 MVA
2000 L4-5 Microdiscectomy/laminotomy
2001 L5-S1 Micro-d/lami
2002 L4-S1 Charite' ADR AlphaKlinik, Munich, Dr. Zeegers - SUCCESS!
Life After Surgery Website
President: Global Patient Network, Inc.
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