Vietnam's first artificial disc receiver doing well

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Tran Thi Cuc is checked by doctors at Viet Duc Hospital in Hanoi two months after she became the first in the country to receive an artificial disc replacement. Photo courtesy of Saigon Tiep Thi

Vietnam's first and only beneficiary of artificial disc replacement is going back to her normal life after just two months, Hanoi doctors said.

Doctor Nguyen Van Thach, deputy director of the country's leading surgery facility, Viet Duc, and chairman of its spinal surgery department, said recent re-examinations on the patient confirmed that "the new disc is working very well," Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper reported Wednesday.

The patient, Tran Thi Cuc, 38, from the nearby Quang Ninh Province is already walking by herself.

Cuc said she was not able to walk normally for many years, and even sitting caused her pains.

Sleeps did not come easy either due to the pain, and the mother of two little children had to quit her job. Eventually she could not handle simple housework either.

She was diagnosed with a lumbar disc herniation and received a surgery to fix it in 2007, but the pains only became worse and immobilized her.

Her family brought her to Viet Duc Hospital when it was developing the new technique of artificial disc replacement.

Doctors recommended her to try it as her condition would only become more severe and paralyze her left leg otherwise.

Thach was the main surgeon in the 90-minute operation under the instruction of French experts. Cuc was able to sit up and practice walking after three days.

The doctor said around 30 percent of the Vietnamese population suffer from regular back pains and most of the cases were about disc damage, which can be caused by aging, accidents, or improper body positions and movements.

He said the traditional treatment of spinal disc herniation is to remove the disc and link the two vertebrae, which means a part of the cord is fixated and movements will be inhibited.

The artificial disc is made to closely resemble the real one and thus guarantee normal activities.

Cuc said the pains are not completely gone yet, but have reduced significantly. She was told by doctors that regular practice will eliminate them.

"Anyway, I can sleep well and walk by myself, and am able to do housework again."

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