The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cutting-edge treatment with crack crew
- Bangalore facility looking at 300-bed super-speciality centre in city, with neurosurgery focus

And now for some heartening news amidst the gloom gripping the city's healthcare delivery system. Manipal Hospital, Bangalore, is planning to bring to Calcutta its “combination of complex sub-specialities, teamwork and cost advantages” in neurosurgery, an area where the city lacks adequate expertise.

To add to the silver lining, pharmaceuticals major SRL Ranbaxy is ready to launch “Southeast Asia’s largest diagnostic laboratory” at Chowringhee Mansions, 30B, Jawaharlal Nehru Road. State health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra will be present at the unveiling of the “comprehensive” lab this Wednesday. This comes at a time when pathological labs are under the scanner for charges ranging from “wrong diagnosis” to “sub-standard set-ups”.

If the Chowringhee lab is good news for diagnosis, the Manipal unit signals hope for treatment closer home. “We are looking at a 300-plus-bed hospital, preferably in the heart of Calcutta, to house all the super-specialities. The narrow focus, however, will surely be neurosurgery, where we have very special capabilities,” said Sujay Rao, consultant neurosurgeon at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore, on Monday.

At present, Rao visits the hospital’s referral centres in Calcutta, Serampore and Siliguri once a month, counselling “extremely complex cases” identified by his city-based liaison team Solace. Born and honed in surgical skills in Calcutta and “more fluent in Bengali than in Kannada”, the super-surgeon, however, is eyeing a greater involvement in the city he still considers home.

The Manipal management is scouting for a viable existing hospital in town it could tie up with or take over. “We are not looking at any franchisee-level set-up, but one where we will have control over logistics so that we can come in with our super-specialities in an unhindered climate,” he explained. Tying up all the loose ends and getting all facilities in place could take a few years.

Rao, who had pioneered Neuroplastica — “the only dedicated craniofacial group in the country” — plans to replicate the concept at the Calcutta facility. The crack team, set up along with two plastic surgeons trained in the UK, has performed more than 1,400 complex craniofacial surgeries in tandem with the expertise to remove massive tumours by dismantling the face and exposing the brain, later reconstructing everything using microsurgical techniques.

The treatment of large aneurysms (blood-filled, balloon-like swellings in the brain) and tumours using heart-lung bypass, is another special faculty of the neurosurgical team at Manipal Hospital. “We will bring all these and other state-of-the-art procedures to Calcutta, like surgery to cure epilepsy and prevent strokes, deep brain stimulation to control Parkinson’s disease and use of implants to combat cancer pains,” said Rao.

For the Neuroplastica ensemble in town, Manipal Hospital plans to sharpen the scalpels of a core group of junior surgeons who would perform the routine procedures. For complex surgeries, Rao and his crack crew, comprising plastic and micro-surgeons Anantheswar Y.N. Rao and Niranjan Kumar and neurologist A. Rajaram Bhat, will fly in. “The exodus of patients out of Bengal is like a siphon — once the flow is initiated, it keeps flowing. But we will try to stem the tide, most definitely in the area of neurosurgery, combining cutting-edge treatment with a human face,” he signed off.

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