Thailand Medical Tourism
Thailand Medical Tourism
Thailand says: “We have doctors for your medical need!” Come take a vacation for the related health process and recovery. Why not?
Whether your country has health care or not your medical need may not be offered within your health care system.
Thailand has expert human body mechanics to fix you up!
It is important to know I am the person in the x-ray. I am Canadian. Canadians have a full-coverage medical system subject to this and that. The issue with my transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion TLIF is it may be 3 – 5 years before I can receive the TLIF operation in Canada. I am 70! General age-related health changes occur much quicker after 70. In 5 years my body may no longer qualify for a TLIF operation. My wife, Chef Lee, is a Thai National and the owner and teacher of Chef LeeZ cooking class in Bangkok.
A few months ago I had my first and only High Blood Pressure (HBP) episode resulting in my hospitalization. HBP episodes cannot be ignored! Mine had me unable to pick myself up off the toilet for dizziness and another bout of dry heaves and diarrhea at the same time. We have a trained medic in the family and he owns an ambulance thus I was rushed off to Synphaet Ramintra Hospital a private hospital so as to receive immediate attention. Thai Government hospitals have longer waits to see a Dr.
While Synphaet Ramintra Hospital fixed my blood pressure issue with ease it brought up my back injury of 2019 and x-rays were taken and blood work was run. Their hospital spinal surgeon came into my hospital room and showed my wife and me the x-rays. They showed that L4 & L5 are not lined up like the other vertebrae. He said the blood tests show all my organs to be healthy and thus I qualified for a “screw and glue”, a TLIF. I have seen many x-rays from my adrenaline rush days. These x-rays showed that vertebrae L5 has slipped forward to be inside L4. This where the sciatica nerve is. Now here’s where it gets interesting as the next logical questions are what’s: required, involved, and the cost of the surgery. Right? I told the Dr. no signed blank cheques and you can’t have our firstborn either! No prices we will go elsewhere. Multiple requests were required to obtain the x-rays (.jp in this blog post) and we never received their TLIF cost, inclusions, and exclusions. It’s as if the hospital does not know what the cost is for an operation they do hundreds of times a year. Note: In my hospital room my wife was shown a brochure of the process showing a price of 450,000 baht. The DR. said he thought MRIs run about 10,000 Baht. So what happened to that brochure as it was in writing?
I know someone that had a vertebrae disk replaced in Germany as it was not offered in Canada. These people provided me with the link to www.spineconnection.org. This organization suggested 3 Thailand, Bangkok international hospitals Bumrungrad Hospital, Bangkok Hospital, Bangkok International Hospital. They all have 1 thing in common in their pricing and that is you do not have a full picture of costs without first having an examination by their spinal DR. as each DR. may select different bone replacement material. The final real price also required an MRI.
Bumrungrad Hospital provided an email description of included price and excluded list not included in the price provided. I used it as a comparable template for the costs of services provided by the 3 hospitals above. None of the hospitals would quantify the excluded costs without first seeing their spinal surgeon. At this point, the inclusion cost differences are mostly in the # of nights in the hospital (approximately 30,000 baht/night) and the number of included hours in the operating room and recovery room and if required the not included add-ons. Bumrungrad was 2 hrs operating a/o recovery room and 1-night stay, while the others were 2 hrs to 3 hrs operating room and recovery room and a minimum of 2 nights with one hospital recommending 3-7 nights in the hospital. TLIF starts at 487,000 Baht.
Bangkok Hospital – cost started at nearly 30% greater than the other hospitals without any description of inclusion or exclusion. starting at 690,000 baht.
Discussing this with a foreigner neighbor she suggested we contact Ramathibodi Hospital as it was the first hospital that was straight up with her and her muscle spasm episodes. On our first in-person visit we completed the registration for the hospital and then we went to another floor and made an appointment with their spinal surgeon for a week later. Our return visit included our providing them with our Thai marriage certificates for a 25% discount. After a short visit with their spinal Dr. and he offered to refer us to their Gov’t hospital side of the hospital where the cost of the operation would be the same as a Thai National’s cost.
In the meantime, we went to Siriraj Piyamaharajkarun Hospital recommended by a lawyer we knew. This hospital’s surgeon said they would set up an appointment with the Government side of their operations and we wait to hear of the appointment date and time. Perhaps it fell through the cracks. He thought an MRI was 8,000 baht and we went to have one setup only to find the cost to be 18,000 baht and said no thank you. 450,000 baht + 30K /night.
Ramathibodi Hospital is where it was whispered to my wife’s ear to bring our marriage certificate and receive a 25% discount. This spinal Dr. visit was unlike any Dr. visit I had ever had in Thailand in that this soon retiring Dr. spent maybe 5 seconds on the x-rays and had me lie on his examining table. No other Dr. had done a physical of my spine or any of what followed! His examination began with the thumb pressing specific muscles at the rear of the hips. When he pressed the right side there was mild pain say 3 with 10 being high. Not so for the left side! In many places, he pressed reached a pain level 12! He did this so as to relax the muscle and reduce pain from the exercise he was going to show me next. He then taught me while lying on my side stretch how to do specific leg muscle stretches. Following his examination he says all I need to do is strengthen my abdominal muscles and then there will be no need for an operation. He taught me how to hold my abdominal muscles tight and breathe so the contracted muscles become my normal posture. To our surprise, he was demonstrating the tango dance as it uses these specific muscles and all of us are having some fun at something that has otherwise been anything but fun! One further note this Dr. said a flex x-ray provided all the information he required which is a much simpler and cheaper procedure and far less expensive than an MRI.
I am now 1 week into doing the following exercises; a 4 km bike ride (bike modified to sit upright while peddling), a 2 km walk with weights on the wrists and legs, 2 hrs of gardening, 30 minutes of swimming, 1 hour of watering plants and 15 minutes in the morning and evening of feet and leg muscle stretches plus 100 arsehole closed pelvic tilts twice daily have decreased the pinched nerve numbness of my but to my toes to only a few occurrences daily.
Watch for the results of my 3-month follow-up DR. appointment. If my daily exercise has worked! I will not require an operation and I will feel like I’m only 50!
July 13 2023, I did my 2-month follow-up Surgeon Appointment. My upper abdominal and back muscles have responded well to my daily exercise program of: Bicycle 2 mto the multi-way park, add arm & leg weights for the 2 km walk with arm movements, lifts and circles, punches, etc., 20-minute swim (no side stroke). I used to have saggy leg muscles and arm muscles. These are now firm. The Dr. took one look at me and asked how I was doing with my response being much better than 2 months ago. Meal prep is where my arse to toes still go numb and occasionally when watering the plants. Leg and foot cramps are down to 1 or 2 a night. Before swimming I was having these cramps all night long every 90 minutes or so. I left this follow-up appointment with th eDr. saying “call if you need me”. No follow-up!
After all this, I can only estimate the cost of this surgery as I never was advised as to the government hospital Thai Nationals cost. This estimate is 200,000 to 300,000 vs the international hospital which starts at 500,000 to 800,000 baht.
Watch for the next Thailand Medical Tourism blog as I am researching having all my teeth removed and going with a full set of dentures uppers and lowers. The cost so far with Bumrungrad Hospital is nearly $100,000 baht.
Have you read our Thailand Hospitals International verses Government Hospitals web page?
Aug 28 2023 – now fully 3 months into my exercise program and now some 14 days following my injuring my right foot (I could not walk exercise for a week) My arse-to-toe numbness occurs mostly while prepping meals and not so much any other time. Swimming is now a daily activity. My while sleeping leg and feet cramps are almost non-existent now. Prior to an everyday swim, I had feet and leg cramps throughout the sleep period every hour or two. I have a swim jet in the backyard pool but did not use it as Had an ear problem that was fixed with wax remover and now I am fine for swimming.