Specialised Joint Surgeons in Pretoria are Gaining Local and International Acclaim
Already attracting a fair share of referrals from practitioners across South Africa, one of the joint surgeons currently offering services in Pretoria is also receiving a substantial number of requests from referring physicians overseas. There is little doubt that the often extremely long waiting lists for orthopaedic surgery at public healthcare facilities in some European countries, combined with the weak rand that has made the cost of private healthcare in South Africa a more desirable alternative, have both helped to arouse overseas interest. However, it is the quality of the treatment provided that has been responsible for sustaining that interest and, in the process, for building the nation’s position as a sought-after medical tourism destination.
Cosmetic surgery and dentistry have long been the objects of international interest. However, the demand from overseas patients for joint surgeons and their specialised services in major centres, such as Pretoria, is growing. Much of that demand is for procedures that can be performed arthroscopically. Because this type of intervention is only minimally invasive, it will tend to require only a fairly short recovery period. This means that, after a couple of days, the patient is generally free to explore the local beauty, and to enjoy some vacation time with his or her family as part of the overall plan.
Arthroscopy involves inserting an endoscope through a tiny incision in the joint region. Consisting of a thin tube with a light and TV camera in its tip, the scope provides joint surgeons with a televised view of any internal damage to a shoulder, hip, or knee, for example. Pretoria orthopaedic specialists, and those from other surgical disciplines, employ this type of technique both for exploratory purposes and to provide corrective treatments in a wide variety of conditions.
The knee is subject to a number of problems, either due to injury or some disease, therefore making it a common target for arthroscopic procedures. One of the more frequent reasons for knee arthroscopy is to repair a torn meniscus – one of two half-moon shaped discs of cartilage located between the femur and tibia that act as shock absorbers. Joint surgeons in Pretoria and elsewhere use the endoscope to guide them whilst trimming the torn meniscus to remove the damaged portion or, where possible, to repair the tear. The scope is also used to smooth damage to the cartilage that lines the articular surfaces, and remove any loose fragments, to relieve knee pain and restore mobility.
Once, this type of orthopaedic procedure was largely restricted to the knee and other regions, such as the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and ankles. However, ongoing advances in arthroscopic techniques and instruments have resulted in less invasive options that joint surgeons in Pretoria and other orthopaedic centres can now employ in the treatment of hip conditions, such as femoroacetabular impingement (FAI).
The condition results from the formation of abnormal bony protrusions, either on the head of the femur, around the socket, or both. Hip movements result in friction that, in turn, causes damage to articular cartilage and labrum – a kind of gasket that retains the lubricating fluid in which the joint is bathed. Arthroscopy reveals the extent and location of the damage and provides instrument access to shave away the protrusions, to remove loose fragments, and to repair the damaged labrum, where this may be required.
The need for the services of skilled joint surgeons, such as those available from the Pretoria practice of Dr Jan De Vos, is a growing one, and is being fuelled by a broadening of the incidence of osteoarthritis. The condition is no longer confined to the aged, but is now being seen far more frequently in younger subjects. Active in orthopaedic research and the professional body, Dr De Vos is a specialist in the fields of arthroscopy and joint replacement surgery and arthroplasty.