MARIA’S STORY OF SCOLIOSIS: FROM ICELAND TO TURKEY
Maria, a girl who had been dancing, engaging in sports and playing football for 4 years, was only 16 when she and her family heard about the diagnosis of “scoliosis” for the first time in their lives. Fear and shock gripped them. They searched for treatment options right after. The latest treatment method of this disease, which is as old as human history, was found by using one of the modern communication methods. With the research they have done on Facebook and on the Internet, they thought she should have “tethering” surgery that allows the growth of the spine. There were two options for this method applied in the last 5 years in the world: USA or Turkey. As a result of the meticulous research, having taken the track for Dr. Ahmet Alanay, Professor of Orthopedics and Traumatology, Spine Health Center, Acıbadem Maslak Hospital. Maria and her family returned to their countries with great happiness and they expressed their admiration for Turkey.
Turkey, which has attracted attention as a shining star with the breakthroughs in health tourism in recent years, is now also giving hope to patients from Europe thanks to the experience of the physicians, the latest technological devices and the affordable costs of treatment. One of them is the 16-year-old Icelandic patient Maria Arnarsdot. When scoliosis, defined as the curving of the spine to the right or to the left and experienced by 3 out of every 100 children, darkened Maria’s door, her family decided on Turkey instead of USA for the final surgery after doing meticulous research. The treatment was applied in Acıbadem Maslak Hospital as well as a few centers in the USA. However, in the USA, as the costs were so high, and so many people who were treated with scoliosis pointed out Prof. Dr. Ahmet Alanay in the research they did on social media and Internet, they headed out to Istanbul, on which they did not have much information.
“We had heard of scoliosis for the first time and we were shocked!”
Maria, who had adopted the sporting lifestyle for many years, dancing, going to gymnastics from the age of 6 to 11 and continuing to play football for 4 years, started to feel pain especially in her waist and back two years ago when she was running. Her parents took her to a physician in Iceland due to the curvature that began to appear in her spine and the pain that gradually increased even while breathing. The doctors recommended her fusion surgery (fixation of the spine), which is the conventional surgical solution for scoliosis treatment. However, not taking kindly to the fusion surgery first, the family sought hope in different methods. “Until then we had no idea of scoliosis or even heard of its name. We were very worried when she was diagnosed with scoliosis, and we were frightened and even shocked”, said the family and registered her for a 4-week Schtorh training program in London, seeking hope in physical treatment methods. However, when the problems were not resolved, long and meticulous research started on the operation and the physician.
Numerous successful operations and cost-effectiveness
Seeking a solution other than fusion surgery, the family talked to many people on Facebook, who have similar complaints and who are getting healthy with the ‘fusionless tethering’ method. The method was not implemented in Europe. For this method applied in the last 5 years in the world, there were two options: USA or Turkey. As a result of long and meticulous research, they consulted Dr. Ahmet Alanay, a professor of orthopaedics and traumatology at the Spine Health Center of Acıbadem Maslak Hospital. Arnarsdottir, the father living in London, said: “Last year we went to see the doctor who applies this procedure in the USA and said that Maria was fit for treatment, but our insurance did not cover it. Treatment in the US was very expensive. When we investigated the alternatives in Europe, both the groups on Facebook and the internet, as well as our very own doctor in USA, always recommended Doctor Ahmet Alanay. When we met him, we felt that we could rely on his experience and he could help our daughter recover. Moreover, his approach was very clear and honest; he was not marketing his own services to us, instead he was clearly explaining the illness, the treatment, and Maria’s condition” he says, expressing the happiness he felt due to the successful operation.
I will continue to do sports
Maria and her family had no idea that Turkey had made a move and become a shining star in the field of health and people have been going to Turkey for treatment until she was diagnosed with scoliosis. They were not leaning towards Turkey in terms of language and culture; however, Dr. Prof. Dr. Ahmet Alanay’s numerous successes alleviated their concerns and increased hopes. They were not disappointed. Maria, who recovered quickly after the last successful surgery, was discharged and stated that she felt very well and would continue to play sports after returning home. “This center is at its peak with its structure and services. Moreover, everyone, from doctors and nurses to all other health personnel, is friendly; they meet our needs immediately” she says.
Prof. Dr. Alanay: “A method we have been using for 3,5 years”
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Alanay stated that the technique of tethering, which they successfully applied 3.5 years ago for the first time, was a breakthrough treatment method in scoliosis and noted, “We administered this method, which was not applied in Europe and only applied in a few centers in the USA, 3.5 years ago in Turkey for the first time and we got an excellent result. It was very new in the US as well. Then we quickly progressed with the necessary equipment developed in our country. Maria’s surgery was also quite successful. Unlike fusion surgery, which involves fusing of bone pieces, tethering does not prevent the spine from developing. I think it will become more prominent in the treatment of scoliosis in the future”, he says. Dr. Ahmet Alanay, who stated that they started to present their achievements with this method in the international congresses and that patients from Europe started to come for treatment, says, “Everyone has realized that Turkey is in a much better condition compared to the western hospital concept, with the newest technologies it uses and highly experienced doctors. In the treatment of scoliosis, Turkey now is in great demand from many countries around the world due to its success in scoliosis treatment”.
Tethering: Greater capability for movement, minimum bleeding, rapid recovery!
Thanks to this special method developed in Turkey for the first time after the US, the child’s spine is not fused. Therefore, they can grow and their movement is not restricted.
The curvature is reduced by stretching the special polyester cord placed on the spine. As the patient grows and gets taller, the curvature of the spine recovers from day to day with the support of the cord.
Bleeding and pain is minimized and very rapid healing is achieved as a camera is inserted through 6 small holes in the closed method. The patient returns to normal daily life shortly after being discharged.
In this method, which saves the patient from having a long operation scar on the back, there is a small incision of 3-4 cm which is not quite apparent.