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10 breakthrough surgeries


In the course of research for this article on the breathtaking advances India has made in medical surgery — from re-do bypass of the kind Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had, to the suspended animation technique used to save the life of an Ahmedabad businessman, or even the small-intestine operation on Amitabh Bachchan — a renowned surgeon said New York comes to New Delhi these days for its heart problems. Many say that’s not an exaggeration. Indian doctors now routinely perform cutting-edge procedures — be it to remove deep tumours in the brain, or to correct malfunction in the femur bone. To represent this great leap in India’s operation theatres, TOI-Crest brings you 10 surgeries that underline both the coming of age of home-grown methods and the sharpness that technology lends to medicine. This is by no means a definitive list; what this story seeks to do is bring you a sense of the exciting work that’s going on

Until a decade back, India's rich and famous bypassed the country if they needed an open heart surgery. And Go-West was the mantra that ruled their minds and guided their health decisions. Be it a liver transplant, facelift or cancer surgery, they were never impressed with desi doctors or infrastructure back home.

But this no longer is the case. When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh needed a re-do bypass heart surgery - still considered a niche and difficult operation - he chose a home-grown doctor and a public hospital. So did a lakh of other Indians. Ramakant Panda, who operated on the PM, says, "Between January and November 2010, heart surgeons across India performed 97, 000 operations, including bypasses and valve replacements. " In fact, India stands third globally (after the US and China) in the number of heart operations performed each year.

The success story in surgeries is not limited to heart alone - though it is the most illustrative one. Be it surgery for cancer, ophthalmology or bone joints, India's other men - and women - in blue are abreast with the latest in the field. Contemporary designs in joints in the fields of spine and orthopaedics make their Indian debut almost alongside or immediately after they appear on European shelves. Suddenly, the number of medical device companies that are setting up Indian offices has gone up. Be it the Mercedes Benz of the hearing aids segment, Phonak, or St Jude Medical, which has a vast repertoire of devices, many have in recent years put India on their marketing map.

"There is no doubt that Indian surgeons are as good, if not better, than their counterparts in the West in certain fields, " said Dr Rajan Badwe, who heads the country's premier cancer-care hub, Tata Memorial Hospital, in Mumbai. Take the case of oesophageal or head and neck cancers. As India has the largest number of patients in the world suffering from these forms of cancers, its surgeons are versatile in treating them.

What has brought about this change? The medical fraternity gives three reasons. First, the booming economy has resulted in infusion of funds to build infrastructure and there is a healthy readiness to invest in newer technologies. Swank hospitals have sprung up not only in metro cities but also in smaller towns. Many hospitals in metros such as Delhi and Mumbai have placed orders for robotic arms to perform surgeries.

Second, these new healthcare hubs are more often than not manned by doctors who have returned home due to the boom in opportunities.

Third, there also is the matter of skills and expertise. Until 15 years back, Indian hospitals had a mortality of 30 per cent in heart surgeries. Today the figure stands between 3 per cent and 5 per cent - inching closer to the American figure of 2. 7 per cent. Ditto in the field of cancer. "Until the 1990s, pancreatic cancers had a mortality of 20 per cent, but now it is down to 2 per cent, " says Dr P Jagannath, the surgeon who operated on Amitabh Bachchan's diverticulitis (a disease of the small intestine) six years back. He credits this outcome to two factors - the availability of newer technologies that make operations safer for patients and the practise that Indian doctors now get.

Reader's opinion (31)

Laxman PantJan 6th, 2011 at 14:09 PM

This will encouraged new players from the private sector to get into the healthcare.
The government too must improve the quality of public healtcare so that the disadvantaged in our society don't get left behind.If India is to progress, a heathy India is a must.........

Jyoti JamnalDec 18th, 2010 at 12:47 PM

hey... wer are the 10 BREAKTHROUGHS ?

Gaurav AgarwalDec 15th, 2010 at 15:24 PM

1. Where is the list of 10 break through surgeries??
2. The real unsung hero's are the hundreds to thousands of surgeons in mid to small size towns and cities operating with huge constraints of infrastructure, financial and supportive facilities, yet provide world class results.

Gurappa MudagalDec 14th, 2010 at 22:28 PM

which are the 10 BREAKTHROUGHS ?

Aj BhDec 14th, 2010 at 09:17 AM

The article mentions only the human parts that surgeries are carried on, but there is no mention of the procedures.Guess the article was only to gather readership.

Ankur JainDec 14th, 2010 at 08:41 AM

I am currently in United States pursuing my graduation. I had an idea that surgery field is expanding at rapid rate in India but I am amazed by the stats. We are not far from the day when we will be on top, beyond USA or china. Thanks to all people involved in this area.

Gurappa MudagalDec 13th, 2010 at 23:12 PM

Thanks,I'm a physician and I want to know which are the ten surgeries that are to be enumerated here ?

Parthasarathi BhattacharyyaDec 13th, 2010 at 19:39 PM

Money and infrastructure were always there in health care sector. Only the degree changed. We still lack in professionalism which unfortunately money can't buy. Dedicated people are coming back to India and bringing smile to patient's and their families. Let us recognise and support their effort.

shivani tomarDec 13th, 2010 at 18:11 PM

indian doctors rocks.but it would be more appreciated if these technologies could be available at low cost for common man.now india is third in heart surgeries,but at one day new generation will make it first

Raj BakshiDec 13th, 2010 at 17:56 PM

Being a person from medical industry I know this article is true & correct. I know our surgeons are very talented & perform their job very well. Most of the good hospitals are now well equipped. Patient also are well informed and goes to the righ place for treatment. I salute the honest surgeons.

Rajesh SangpalDec 13th, 2010 at 15:05 PM

Bravo Doctors... They are doing really good job. All they need is better exposure and funding and does not seem impossible with the way we are growing...

Ankush SinghDec 13th, 2010 at 09:45 AM

I am feeling proud to have taken birth in this Great country and lived with our own people. Keep things moving forward. Salute to them.

Atif ZiaDec 13th, 2010 at 09:38 AM

Yes we have progressed in providing high end health care but what about primary healthcare

Asokananda ProsadDec 13th, 2010 at 04:17 AM

Indian physicians, especially the surgeons are brilliant than what they were earlier, having higher studies abroad. I find some of my friends quite capable in the metropolis today. Candidly, as regards surgery of open heart and brain tumor are the political stalwart ready to count on them?

Dattatray KulkarniDec 12th, 2010 at 22:02 PM

There is not doubt about skill of our doctors .But post surgery care is still not upto the mark.And in rural areas primary health centers are also in a bad shape.Let us study our draw backs also

Lav LakdawalaDec 12th, 2010 at 19:46 PM

wish the writer had detailed the expertise india has in the 10 surgeries.

Kapil PaliwalDec 12th, 2010 at 19:45 PM

Indian surgeons are best because,
1. They handle volumes which doctors outside can only dream of and
2. with globalization, technology becomes available here immediately.
So you get best of both the worlds.
Way to go my fellow sugeons!
Dr Kapil Paliwal

Tom SachelbakDec 12th, 2010 at 19:43 PM

It may be true that skilled surgeries are being perfrmed in India but what is not stressed is that these surgeries often riginate in the west and then are performed in India . What is also noteworthy is that most of these surgeries are performed by Indian Doctors wh arfe trained abroad .

Avin JhaDec 12th, 2010 at 18:50 PM

Impressed with the mortality numbers on by-pass surgeries. But what about morbidity stats? I would have loved to know more numbers for more procedures.

And where is the list of 10 procedures?

Amaan ShaikhDec 12th, 2010 at 18:25 PM

i feel proud to be an indian .keep it up doctor's.Thank you all.

Asokananda ProsadDec 12th, 2010 at 16:02 PM

TOI Crest brings such news which broadens our outlook. New York comes to New Delhi. What a great relief! Crest invades reality. If you are interested in spirituality, I will be glad to serve you the best. If you don’t, doesn’t matter; I will be always with you to enrich me and others as well.

rajgopalnb Dec 12th, 2010 at 14:28 PM

What headline is this? I thought I will get to read about 10 breakthrough surgeries performed in India? A disappointing article and inappropriate title.

Vikram ChatrathDec 12th, 2010 at 09:17 AM

indian docs certainly are very talented. the problem remains that the available training is not upto the mark. most of the renowned docs are all west-trained. I'm a surgeon from the same system who is in the west to get higher training. The bright side is unlike 15 years ago its lucrative to return

Rohit SharmaDec 11th, 2010 at 19:57 PM

Hum kisi se kam nahin. This shows the credibility of our well known surgeons and their hard work to make all the facilities to be available to our Aam Aadmi. We should salute these doctors for performing there task with dedication.
Also the booming economy have changed the way and infrastructure.

Soumyadeep MukherjeeDec 11th, 2010 at 16:30 PM

Hats off to our surgeons ... but when our rural health scenario will change ? Even the city govt hospitals are in miserable condition. Only the rich people & upper middle class are entitled to get the service of these specialist surgeons & the benefit of the cutting edge technology ...

Vikram SinghDec 11th, 2010 at 15:32 PM

Don't be surprised in times not too far, Indian surgeons will surpass the Americans, in reducing mortality further down.

Vikram SujayDec 11th, 2010 at 14:37 PM

Great, after studying this article, i came to know our country to proudly say that , we r @ No.3rd in the world, it's great to know, let's secure the first place in medical tourism.

Abhinay DixitDec 11th, 2010 at 12:55 PM


Nitesh BiradarDec 11th, 2010 at 12:02 PM

this article rightly informs us about the progress INDIA has made and its not difficult to fathom that if everything (including inefficient administration ) falls into place our country will lead in all healthcare fields

Srikanth NadigDec 11th, 2010 at 11:21 AM

makes me feel a proud indian. very infrmative

Lal NarangDec 11th, 2010 at 11:05 AM


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