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Times of India
21 January 2010
By Pratibha Masand
Mumbai, India

Thirty–two–year–old Imtiaz Siddiqui would give sleepless nights to his entire family–his loud snores would often wake them up from deep slumber. Finally, after a visit to the doctor, he was diagnosed with sleep apnea. However, Siddiqui’s problem was not only because of the S–shaped nasal bone, but also tonsils. And for cure, he opted for the new coblation technique surgery, which took much less time than usual and also helped him recover fast.

While coblation is no more a novelty in the US, doctors in the city are gradually adopting the new technology that can be used in two ways. Dr Ram Chaddha, a spine surgeon at Lilavati Hospital, explains how the technique can be used to correct spine discs. “Sometimes, the discs of the spine grow slightly on one side and starts pressing the nerves (herniated disc), which causes excruciating pain in the back. In the new technique–coagulation method–a coblation wand is inserted in the nucleus of the disc. The wand then imparts heat of 40°C to 70°C to the surrounding area, shrinking the growth. This method cures a herniated disc and also other spinal problems,” he said.

In the second method, the coblation wand can be used as a suction tube. “With the coblation wand, we can remove tonsils, tumours and other unwanted or cancerous growths in throat, mouth, nose or ears. All we have to do is put the wand on the problem area and it disintegrates the diseased cells and sucks them out,” said Dr Prabodh Karnik, ENT surgeon at Nanavati Hospital.

“I underwent the surgery on December 28. I was kept under observation for a day and then I was discharged. I haven’t had a problem after that. I could start eating food four days later,” said Imtiaz. However, the surgery comes at a high price. “The instrument alone costs around Rs 4.5 lakh. Plus, each wand, each costing Rs 15,000, is used only once. This makes the total cost of the treatment anywhere between Rs 40,000 and Rs 1 lakh,” said Dr Karnik.

“The technique was successful for 60 out of 100 people in Germany. However, it’s not a permanent cure; a person treated for herniated disc may have a relapse after a few years. But if one takes care to modify day–to–day lifestyle, they might not need to come back again,” said Dr Chaddha, who plans to adopt the technique soon. Dr Karnik already used the coblation method for two surgeries. “The coblation method takes hardly 15 minutes to remove a tonsil,” said Dr Paul Jervis, an otolaryngologist from the UK.

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