Framed articles on the New York Times, CNN, and Tokyo TV are proudly displayed in Wooridul Spine Hospital’s MISS Training Center in Gangnam, Seoul. Among their headlines are, “Wooridul Hospital; an example for the excellence of Korea’s medical tourism,” and “The spinal destination of choice for foreign patients.”
Wooridul우리들병원 has solely been focusing spinal treatment for the last 36 years since its establishment in Busan in 1982. It now manages 10 hospitals scattered throughout Korea and two overseas hospitals in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
|Wooridul Spine Hospital in Gangnam, Seoul.|
Based on its “Patient First” philosophy, Wooridul has researched and developed an advanced spine surgical technique called the Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) in the mid-1990s, which preserves as much of the regular disc tissues as possible, meeting patient’s expectations for minimal scarring and fast recovery with reduced complications.
“The global trend was open surgery back then; this entails opening the operative site with a long incision so the surgeon can view and access the spinal anatomy,” said Dr. Bae Jun-seok배준석, director of Wooridul Research Center, and one of the attending surgeons who teaches foreign doctors in the MISS course.
But that all changed when patients kept complaining about the pain, for specialists needed to destruct back muscles and destabilize the spine itself to see the herniated disc, Bae said.
“We think differently. With MISS, we focus on treating the pathology with different clinical presentations and interventions,” he added.
With almost 16 years of training and 20 published articles under his medical belt, Bae is a recognized spine specialist with expertise in cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine surgeries. He received the “Best Paper Award” at the 2016 Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (SMISS) Annual Forum, the only major meeting focused entirely on MISS.
|Dr. Bae Jun-seok explains Wooridul's International Training Course in a recent interview with Korea Biomedical Review.|
“We believe our technique should be taught around the world, through which we develop it further every year,” Bae said. “I perform about 40-50 surgeries a month. We have 10 spine specialists here, meaning we can treat around 500 patients at most. If we teach other doctors, we can share our knowledge and treat more patients through them.”
Wooridul’s International Training Course provides not only the MISS Course but also a fellowship course and an operation observation session as well.
Bae said, “We can only offer limited seats; seven participants on average for a course. We don’t want a big audience like a lecture, for we need to discuss in depth to be efficient for the convenience of patients.”
|Wooridul Spine Hospital provides state-of-the-art medical equipment for patients treating spinal diseases and injuries.|
The fellowship course provides two or three foreign surgeons with a year of intensive training in diagnosis and treatment of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery & Techniques (MISST). This includes observations in operating rooms, participation in Friday teleconferences with Wooridul’s hospital network, clinics research projects, and writing their papers and journals.
“Wooridul received many positive feedbacks from foreign doctors once they returned to their country,” the spine specialist said. “We had beginning surgeons start their endoscopy clinics. By the app called Whatsapp, we can discuss, review and follow-up their developed skills and to help their patients.”
Foreign doctors are not the only ones impressed with Wooridul’s medical techniques and services; over 12,000 international patients have visited the global spine medical hub, attracted by the fact that months or even years of back pain could be lifted in a simple 30-minute surgery and could walk home the very same day.
|Wooridul also provides rehabilitation for patients in their physical therapy clinic.|
Patients with severe diseases require 10 hours of surgery, but with two to three specialized consultant doctors for assistance, the operating time decreases by half.
“Arab patients tend to stay as long as possible; between one or two months for rehabilitation in our physical therapy clinic,” Bae said. “Other patients such as Chinese, Japanese and Russians wish to go back to their countries as quickly as possible, so they stay in Korea for a week.”
Although Wooridul’s programs are small and elusive, Bae confirmed plans for a two-day cadaver course in their wet-lab next year and welcomed Korean and foreign doctors alike.
For more information about Wooridul’s 2018 International Training Course, visit their website at http://wooridul.com/?page_id=86
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