Pre-Op Testing – What Is Needed?

Once you make your decision to proceed with the surgery Health Vantis makes all the arrangements for you. One of the moving parts of preparation for surgery is pre-op testing. The requirements can be different, depending on the procedure you require and your individual health.

The two most common tests the doctors we work with ask our clients to complete is bloodwork and EKG. Blood work within the last 3 months prior to surgery is usually accepted. If more recent blood work is required, you can schedule a visit with your family doctor and ask for a requisition of what is needed. It usually takes a couple of days to get the results and those can also be picked up at your family doctor.

If you are over 65 and/or have high blood pressure or other cardiological issues, an EKG test is required. In most provinces, it is fairly easy to get. Again, this can be done through your family doctor.

If the results of the EKG are concerning, a cardiological clearance is required. This one is not as easily obtained as the EKG or blood work. Most of the facilities we work with can suggest a local cardiologist that can schedule a consult on short notice to accommodate your surgery date. The cost varies per doctor and location and will be communicated to you by Health Vantis upfront.

Sometimes, when there is a GYN surgery involved, the surgeon would like to see the results of the most recent PAP test. This is done to ensure the overall health of the client is acceptable for surgery.

If you are considering private surgery and have any questions, we are here to help!

What Your Hip Replacement Implants Are Made Of

Even though hip replacement surgery is one of the most common and successful orthopaedic procedures, it can still raise lots of questions. You may be wondering what kind of joint replacement implant you will get and what it is made of. What parts of your hip will be replaced?

Your hip is made of two main components: the ball and the socket. When a hip replacement is performed, damaged parts of the joint are removed and resurfaced.  The ball-and-socket is then replaced with an artificial implant. The surface of the ball and socket replacement parts become the parts that will move and allow the new hip mobility. The materials used in the implant depend on different factors, including:

  • Age of the patient
  • The activity level of the patient
  • Surgeon’s preference
  • Particular deformities/abnormalities of the hip

Typically, there are four individual components to total hip replacement implants:

  1. Stem—inserts into the femur or thigh bone
  2. Cup—inserts into the pelvic bone
  3. Ball—fits onto the end of the stem
  4. Liner—inserts into the cup—essentially becomes your new cartilage

The stem is usually made from cobalt-chromium and/or titanium. If your stem is cemented (inserted with bone cement), then it will be cobalt chromium metal, and if it is cementless (designed for bone to grown into metal), it will be a titanium one. Both designs have excellent long-term results as part of total hip replacement system.

The cup, or acetabulum, is made from titanium or tantalum metals. Both of the metals are tolerated well by human bone and provide excellent surfaces for bony attachment.

The ball, or femoral head, fits on the end of the stem. It comes in different diameters, depending on the size of the cup that fits into pelvis. The ball can be made of ceramic, commonly referred to as porcelain or cobalt-chromium – the most common material used in the past.

The liner fits into the cup and serves as your new cartilage. This part is the most susceptible to wear. In the early days of hip replacement, these parts only lasted about 10 years. Today, the improvements made in the materials used allow for greater longevity of this part of the implant.

Ceramic is one of such materials. It is very strong and provides low wear rates when used with a ceramic ball. Polyethylene, a plastic has been improved in the recent years. It is the most common liner used in today’s hip replacement practice. It is usually coupled with ceramic or cobalt chromium balls.  Cobalt -chromium liners are also sometimes used, paired with a plastic ball. For certain patients this may be a good option.

During your consultation with an orthopedic surgeon you should discuss your options and pros and cons of each material. Together you can make the best decision for your particular case. Many studies have shown hip implants can last beyond 15 years from the original surgery. If you need help connecting with a wait-free private facility and surgeon in the US Health Vantis is here to assist. Give us a call toll free 1877 344 3544.

What Your Knee Replacement Implants Are Made Of

Preparing for a total knee replacement can bring lots of questions. One of the them may be about the materials that your new knee will be made of. It is a great question to discuss with your orthopedic surgeon in detail. So that you come to your visit prepared, below is some information about artificial knee joint parts and what they may be made of.

The materials have to be biocompatible, so not to cause a rejection from your body. They have to duplicate the knee structure – able to bear the weight and move smoothly against each other, allowing for flexibility. They also have to last a reasonably long time.

Several manufacturers make knee implants. The choice of implant will depend on several factors such as age, gender, weight, bone dimensions, ligament condition, bone quality, anticipated activity and occupational history.

Although over 150 designs of knee implants exist, there are generally four major parts to an artificial knee joint:

  • femoral component – a contoured implant fit around the end of the femur
  • tibial component – a flat plate and stem implanted in your tibia
  • a spacer in between those two, or a cushion
  • patellar implant on the underside of the knee cap

A combination of metal and plastic is the most common. This type of implant is the least expensive and has the longest track record for safety and implant life span. The femoral component and tibial plate can be made of cobalt-chromium alloys, titanium and titanium alloys, zirconium, and nickel. The spacer and patellar implant are made of high-quality polyethylene plastic.

In rare cases, people can be allergic to metals such as nickel. Then ceramic components can be used. Ceramic parts are the least likely to react with the body. However, in very rare cases ceramic joint prostheses can shatter under heavy pressure and the pieces must be removed by surgery.

Stainless steel is rarely used in knee replacement implants because it is prone to corrosion in the human body.

When meeting with your orthopedic surgeon, you can ask more questions and discuss this topic in greater detail.  The expertise and experience of your surgeon matter the most and ensure a successful outcome.  We suggest these questions to ask your orthopedic surgeon:

  1. How long will my implant last?
  2. Is it a high flex knee implant design that allows safe deep knee bending or is it a cemented model?
  3. Is it a gender specific implant?
  4. How many of the knee replacement surgeries have you performed using current implants?

Health Vantis can connect you to a Board-certified, highly skilled orthopedic surgeons. One of the surgeons we work with offers custom manufactured knee implants. CT or MRI scan is used to determine the exact anatomy of your knee and make a custom implant. To discuss your options further, please call us toll-free 877 344 3544 or email info@healthvantis.com  In our next blog we will be discussing hip joint parts and materials.

Medical Traveler’s Concern: Do People Die On The Operating Table?

With Medical Travel, people are often concerned about a possible surgery mishap.  It can be a scary process of going to another country and trusting a doctor you most likely haven’t met to provide you with a successful outcome.  One of the biggest misconceptions and fears is that you could die during the surgery.  Yes, that is certainly a risk, however, very uncommon.  Less than 1% of people will die on the operating table.  Most of the time the risk of death and complications occur after a patient is discharged to go home.

Post Operative Care

Preparing to recover after surgery is not just a mental thing to be ready for.  Probably the most important factor is how your after care is structured.  The 3 most common complications associated with death after a surgery are:  major bleeding, heart damage and infection.

Surgery causes an inflammation reaction in your body.  Immediately after surgery, you are most likely going to be on pain killers or Experal, an extended form of numbing medicine.  These drugs can sometimes mask a significant complication such as coagulation, which can lead to blood clots or heart failure.

Research shows that the postoperative care in a home setting is where the focus needs to be.  It is crucial that you have someone with you after surgery for a minimum of 24 hours. Forty-eight hours is even better to help you identify any signs of complications.  Listening to your body and doing exactly what the doctor has told you in your post op instructions is important.  Trying to do more than you are ready for, even at 5-6 weeks out, can cause a significant set back.

Surgery is a traumatic shock to your body.  It needs time to heal.  You might feel like you are ready to resume normal activities because you are experiencing little pain.  This is greatly in part to the pain killers you are most likely taking.  These mask the pain associated with your recent surgery.  Trying to do more than you are ready to because you ‘feel’ great or have a good day, prior to your incision healing, can cause bleeding and/or even re-injury.   

Sepsis

Sepsis is also a great concern.  Most surgeries are now done on an outpatient basis, which reduces your chance for infection.  However, that still doesn’t mean it can’t happen.  If you are traveling out of the US and Canada, the risk for antibiotic resistant infections is much higher.  To avoid this, verifying the hospital is JCI accredited will provide a piece of mind that their regulations are the same as those in the US and Canada should an infection occur.

Complications coverage is available if you wish to be protected in the event you do have a complication, even after you are back home in Canada.  You can find more information about it here.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

 

October 2019 Newsletter

 

Carson MacLeod – Private Hip Replacement

Recent Health Vantis Client

We had the pleasure of meeting and helping a wonderful gentleman named Carson MacLeod from Truro, NS a few months back.  He came to us in need of a timely hip replacement surgery.  

Up until 3 years ago, this healthy and fit 78 year old was still playing hockey and able to do all of his normal day to day things. The pain in his hip got so severe, he could no longer do them.  After a trip to the doctor, it was confirmed he needed to have a hip replacement.  Unfortunately, there was a lengthy wait to have this done.

When he realized he would not be getting his hip replacement in Canada any time soon, he decided the pain was severe enough that he could not wait.  He spent a great deal of time researching his options on having the surgery done privately in the US.  A facility in Boston proved to be challenging to get an actual quote on the cost.  His daughter came across our website site and suggested he call us.  

We had the perfect doctor in mind for him.  He was quickly given a surgery date and his trip accommodations were booked.  He traveled to the US at the end of June 2019 and had his surgery on July 1st.

The most amazing part of Carson’s story is that this hip replacement was done on an out-patient basis and he was up and walking within a couple hours after his surgery.  This would have been unheard of 5 years ago, especially for someone in their 70’s.  Most doctors are still doing joint (or hip) replacements on an in-patient procedure.  While not everyone is a candidate to have a hip replacement on an out patient basis, the benefit is that it allows for a quicker recovery time and less chance of developing an infection while in the hospital.  

Carson had a walker for 2 days, was able to have a cane by the third day and was fit to travel back home only 4 short days after his surgery.  It is remarkable how well he has continued to do since then.  He has reported that he never felt better and has not had any hip pain whatsoever since his surgery.

If you would like the same result, please give Health Vantis a call at 877-344-3544.

Watch Carson speak about his experiences here.

 

The Value of a Second Opinion

Two years ago I had a L5 S1 spinal back fusion.  After 20+ years of treatment for a herniated disc, my options on pain control were exhausted.  The cortisone injections, facet joint blocks and rhizotomies were no longer working.  The only option I had left was to have a back fusion.  This is a major back surgery and one many doctors avoid at all costs until it is absolutely necessary.  

My Spinal Orthopedic Surgeon gave me a plan on how the surgery would work. I decided to get a second opinion due to the nature of the surgery.  I took my records to a Neurosurgeon.  He reviewed them, did a physical exam and while he did agree I needed the fusion, he offered another approach to doing the surgery.

The original surgery was to include 2 incisions on my back cutting through muscle, 4 screws and an in-patient hospital stay.  My second opinion offered a procedure called an ALIF (Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion), where they went through my belly, did not need to cut through muscle, 2 vs 4 screws and could be done on an out patient basis, making the recovery time so much easier and quicker.  

I can happily report, I went with my second opinion and had an excellent result.  Could I have had the same result with the other suggested technique?  Most likely, however, I would have had 2 additional screws, which were ultimately not needed, 2 incisions and they would have cut through my muscle creating more recovery time.  This would have been on an in-patient basis thus increasing the risk of infection.  

The value of a second opinion is to give you more information so that you can make the most educated decision about your health. It is not to discount the original doctor’s opinion, but instead to consider his recommendation with others that may be available.  In my situation, this was a major surgery.  I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing and that there were no other options available to me.  But there can be numerous other reasons why someone might want to have a second opinion:

  • The doctor says there is nothing else they can do for you
  • You didn’t feel the doctor listened to your concerns
  • You are looking for an alternative treatment or other options
  • You want to confirm the diagnosis and/or treatment plan
  • Peace of mind you are doing the right thing 
  • You want to know if there is newer technology or an advanced, easier or safer method to the approach your surgery has been recommended be done.

If you would like to have a second opinion and are not sure how to go about it, please contact us and we’d be happy to help!  info@healthvantis.com, 877-344-3544

 

 

Flying South for the Winter?  Combine Your Trip with Private Surgery

Fall is here and this is the time of the year that the Snowbirds start making their plans to travel south for the winter.  If you’ve considered having a surgery done privately, this would be a great time to start planning it.  

What are the Benefits?:

  • You can recover in the comfort of your own home.  While recovery can be done in a hotel, there is nothing better than your own bed.  Plus, you save the expense of a hotel room!
  • The ability to follow up with the surgeon who did your surgery.  Most people who travel for surgery will stay on average 5-7 days and then return to Canada.  Your doctor in Canada is able to do your follow up visits and the surgeon in the US can continue to follow you via phone, email and/or Skype.  However, being local and having the ability to do your follow ups in person is more optimal.
  • There is less risk since you do not need to fly home right away.  The doctor would not release you to fly home unless he was confident you were fit to do so.  However, flying after surgery does present risk.  If you combine your surgery with an already planned trip to stay for a couple of months, that risk element is removed. 
  • You are already familiar with the area.  Traveling to another country to have surgery can be overwhelming, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area.  If you have the surgery in your winter destination, chances are you will already know your way around.
  • Avoid the delays and wait times in Canada.  Most facilities in the US can accommodate you within a couple of weeks time.
  • By coming to the US, you may have access to treatment for procedures or surgeries that are not available in Canada.  There are many things unavailable to Canadians that are available in the US.  This would be an optimal time to explore alternative options.
  • There is convenience of already being in the area so you avoid an additional trip and expense.  If you combine your south of the border winter trip with a surgery, you will save money by not making a separate trip to do so.

Contact Health Vantis to connect you to an already vetted, safe and affordable facility in the area you are traveling.  We take the guess work out of finding the appropriate surgeon for your needs.

 

Drug Shortages and How It Might Affect Snowbirds

The Canadian Snowbirds are making their plans to head south soon. Recent articles in the news talked about the shortage of drugs.  This has forced doctors to change patients’ doses and/or actual medication. So how will drug shortage in Canada affect the Snowbirds?

How Could It Affect Snowbirds?

For months, well-established drugs have been placed on back order for an unknown period of time. The reasons why are unknown. Some of the drugs are used to treat very common ailments such as hypertension, heart failure, diabetes, and heart burn. Having your medication changed to a substitute drug, even if it is in the same family, can cause different side effects and reduce efficacy. 

Most of Snowbirds will take out private travel insurance prior to leaving for their trip. Medical history plays a major part in the ability to get insurance. If you recently had a medication change within the past 3 months, even if it’s for an ailment you’ve had controlled for several years, you run the risk of being declined or having that particular ailment excluded from the insurance. In the eyes of the insurer such a switch can give an impression of medical instability of the person taking the medication.

The loss of insurability presents a problem to a large group of people who have otherwise been stable on a medication for years. What can you do?

What Can You Do?

If you know that you will be traveling soon, talk to your doctor about it.  Discuss your particular medication situation sooner rather than later. Find out if what you are taking will present a risk for being put on another drug as a substitute. If so, see if they can do it now to allow time for you to be on it so you still qualify for travel insurance. Do not wait until a couple of weeks before your planned trip to do this. It might prevent you from being approved.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

Hip Replacement Do’s and Don’ts

Hip replacement surgery is one of the most successful surgeries to relieve pain from arthritis. Your doctor will give you a set of specific instructions for after surgery recovery.  To help set up the stage for a speedy recovery, however, here are a few points:

Do:

  • Try to maintain a healthy weight prior to surgery
  • Do light exercise and stretching daily – prehab can help tremendously in recovering faster
  • Talk to your doctor and ask questions – clearing some unknowns will help lower anxiety before surgery
  • Prepare your home for your return from surgery
  • Line up a physiotherapist – we can help with this one!
  • Talk to your family and friends about who will be helping you after your surgery

Don’t

  • Stop exercising, if you can
  • Drink alcohol 48 hours prior to surgery
  • Get discouraged – keep up with your social activities
  • Expect an overnight recovery – you will be able to walk but it will take time to get back to your regular activities

If you are curious about your private options for hip replacement, give us a call – toll-free 1 877 344 3544

Private Surgery In Canada and Beyond

While healthcare is free to all Canadians, we are all aware that we do pay for it through taxes and that access to it can be limited. Oftentimes Canadians experience lengthy wait times for some surgeries and lack of training and proper equipment for the latest surgical technologies and advances. Health Vantis helps connect Canadians with private surgical and treatment facilities that have no waitlists and can be arranged as fast as 1-2 weeks.

Some private surgical facilities exist in Canada, but there are very few and limited to what they can do, and, surprisingly, how fast they can accommodate. Through the years we have found that access to private surgery in Canada is also a bit of a wait, however, not nearly as bad as the public system.

Often times we get calls from people that are at the end of their patience reserves and need help asap. In most cases, we can help. We have a unique system of working with different medical facilities and select the best suited for our client’s needs. We do not get paid by medical facilities and connect our clients with the most appropriate, experienced and trained doctor for their ailment. Other facilitators may contract out with medical facilities which means that they will only send you tp one place, where they get paid.

Being honest and transparent with our clients is our priority. You will know the costs upfront, and there is never a hidden fee. We send our clients to the facilities we visited so that they have peace of mind. If you have any questions or concerns, we will stay with you all the way through your medical journey until you are back home.

If you are interested in learning more about how to get your surgery in a private manner give us a call toll-free 877 344 3544 and we will be happy to help!

Robotic Hysterectomy

 

In our last blog, we wrote about laparoscopic hysterectomy. Robot-assisted surgery is now coming into wider use for treating conditions like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, uterine bleeding, adenomyosis and other. A robotic hysterectomy is a variation of laparoscopic surgery using special remotely controlled tools that provide surgeons with special wrist instruments that bend and rotate at far greater precision than the human wrist. This along with three-dimensional magnified vision gives doctors the ability to operate with enhanced vision, precision and control.

Robot-assisted surgery allows for excellent visualization of the blood vessels, ureters and surrounding tissue as well as improved ability to suture the vagina after removal of the uterus and cervix. Operating through small incisions leaves minimal scarring and leads to faster recovery. Other advantages of robotic hysterectomy over a traditional open surgery one are lower infection rates, much faster recovery time, less pain and fewer post-op complications.

All surgeons performing this procedure have to be properly trained. Health Vantis works with facilities that offer this type of surgery in a safe, affordable and private manner. In Canada, only a few places offer it and the wait times are significant. If you are interested in having this procedure done, contact us to find out more details. We can usually accommodate our clients within 2 weeks, provided they have their medical records and are deemed to be good candidates for this surgery. Give us a call toll-free 1 877 344 3544 and get your one-hour complimentary evaluation.