New Delhi, November 6:

Be it surface hip replacement or advanced knee replacement that promises near normal movement, India is emerging as a favoured destination for orthopaedic surgery, including for patients from the US and Canada.

Word of mouth publicity and the Internet are proving the biggest connecting links as they are able to help establish patient confidence in the surgeon even before they meet, said 38-year-old Cara Maria Gudeus of Las Vegas. For the real estate developer the decision was influenced by a highly rated television programme and Internet search.

“I found that not only are many of the doctors in India trained in the US and Britain, but they are also offering the latest surgeries like surface hip replacement not as yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration,” Gudeus said.

“I chose S K S Marya at Max Healthcare Institute after corresponding with him through e-mail. The fact that I could address all my queries without waiting for an appointment or paying $200 for a five minute consultation were some of the deciding factors,” she said.

Post her surgery and a three-week long stay in the hospital, Gudeus is confident of being able to get back to her favourite sports — squash and tennis — something that would not have been possible with the conventional hip replacement surgery.

Unlike in the US, Canada or Britain where the waiting time is anywhere between 12-24 months, leading private Indian hospitals like Max Healthcare and Apollo Group are among those that are able to give dates at short notice.

“When you finally take the big decision you want to get the surgery done immediately. That was possible in India. At one-fourth the treatment cost in the US, I have got good care,” said Gudeus.

According to Marya, director of Orthopaedics and Joint Replacement at Max Healthcare, several patients now also seek Rotating Platform Flexion (RPF) or advanced knee replacement surgery that offers greater flexibility including bending and kneeling.

This is another surgical technique developed by a British surgeon and being done by a few hospitals in India. It is yet to be approved by the US FDA.

“Patients are increasingly opting for surgeries like surface hip replacement and RPF despite the higher cost as they are very suitable for Asian life-style, offering greater flexibility of movement with more longevity than conventional techniques,” said Marya.

The list of patients having benefited from these surgeries include many from the US, Canada, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the Middle East countries, said R K Sharma of the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.

“The attraction of India is that we are offering surgeries that are still not approved by US FDA or the cost is too high back home. The orthopaedic patient community search the website when making a decision,” said Sharma.

Most of the surgeons like Sharma have ongoing correspondence with patients overseas. With many of the preliminary tests done, the wait for surgery is reduced to the minimum once in India for treatment.

The package offered to the patients has no hidden costs. It includes post-operative care either in tie-up with some five-star hotel or services apartments with full regime of dietician, physiotherapists, room service and even a holiday on recovery.

“With Indian hospitals offering high standards of surgery and post operative care, we have a large number of non-resident Indians as also foreigners coming here for surgery,” said Harshwardhan Hegde, orthopaedic surgeon at Sitaram Bhartiya Institute of Medical sciences in the capital.