International Patient Program
For Mexico patients coming to Spine Physicians Institute in Dallas
Spine Physicians Institute receives many visiting patients from Mexico. Because of Dallas Fort Worth International airport, many Mexican residents can easily fly direct to Dallas, Texas from many airports in Mexico, including Monterrey, Merida, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Guadalajara, Puebla, Puerto Vallarta, San José del Cabo, Hermosillo and Mexico City (DF).
These Mexico patients travel for the most advanced artificial disc technology and minimally invasive spine surgery techniques. Using special instruments, the spine surgeon at Spine Physicians Institute is able to access the herniated disc through a half-inch incision with instruments the width of a ballpoint pen. Some patients want the most advanced artificial disc technology to preserve the motion in their spine. Other patients may need surgery to relieve symptoms of stenosis which can appear as a person approaches their fifties.
Some other patients may have had spine surgery in Mexico and have “failed back surgery syndrome” where they continue to have pain or neurological symptoms after surgery. These cases are complex and typically need the expertise of a fellowship-trained spine surgeon in the U.S.
Venkat Sethuraman, MD is one of the few spine surgeons in the State of Texas who is fellowship trained at the world famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Mexican patients travel for the following services at Spine Physicians Institute:
- second opinion for spine surgery
- second opinion for back surgery
- second opinion for neck surgery
- minimally invasive spine surgery
- artificial disc replacement for the neck
- spinal injections for back pain
- spinal injections for neck pain
- herniated disc diagnosis and treatment
- treatment of spinal fracture
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion (ACDF surgery)
- stenosis surgery
The Mexico patient gains the peace of mind that they are accessing the most advanced spine surgery capabilities in the world. By having minimally invasive spine surgery in the United States, the incision is much smaller, about a half-inch long, which makes recovery from spine surgery much faster and with less discomfort than when a larger 3-inch incision is made. Many patients from Mexico are able to have surgery on an outpatient basis and are able to recover at the pool at a local Dallas hotel for a day or so before heading back to their city in Mexico.
Venkat Sethuraman, MD is proficient in minimally invasive spine surgery. Dr, Sethuraman has performed more than 1,000 spine surgeries. At Spine Physicians Institute, Dr. Sethuraman also provides second opinions for spine surgery and MRI reviews for those with back pain and neck pain. The contact form on this site enables the Mexican patient to email questions in advance of their appointment.
These questions can relate to their treatment and estimates related to the cost of treatment. Where possible Spine Physicians Institute can provide an estimate for the various services including spine surgeon, ambulatory surgery center, anesthesia and any needed instrumentation or artificial disc implants.
Dr. Sethuraman also emphasizes non-surgical treatment options where possible. When spine surgery is necessary because of a herniated disc, spinal fracture, or spinal stenosis, Dr. Sethuraman operates through tubular retractors that reduce the size of the incision, lessen blood loss, reduce time in the hospital, speed return to activity with a less painful recovery. This spine surgery expertise enables many patients to have outpatient spine surgery and be home the same day.
The benefit of traveling from Mexico to the United States for spine surgery
Residents of Mexico may enjoy affordable and easy access healthcare for simple primary care problems in Mexico. However, when complex health issues arise, many residents of Mexico may prefer to access the advanced technology and the most advanced minimally invasive spine surgery techniques that are not otherwise available in Mexico.
Secondly, with the pandemic, becoming hospitalized in Mexico for spine surgery can expose the spine patient to Covid and other infections from other patients and stafff since these hospitals often are the place of last resort for very sick patients.
Lastly, nursing shortages in Mexico caused by the pandemic or other reasons can create issues where some patients get worse when they are in the hospital because they’re given the wrong medications or the wrong dose.
Consequently an otherwise simple back or neck surgery for a herniated disc can become problematic for hospitals that are not geared for advanced spine surgery.
The benefit of a half-inch incision
Around the world, 95% of the time, the traditional surgical incision for spine surgery is about 3 inches long. But the highest trained spine surgeons are proficient in minimally invasive spine surgery and operating through a half-inch incision with an instrument the width of a ball point pen.
These spine surgeons have to perform more than a hundred of these cases each year to stay proficient. Consequently such spine specialists are simply NOT found in smaller cities or regions where they might perform 20 spine surgeries a year.
The last issue for the spine surgery patient from Mexico is that the instrumentation and tools for advanced spine surgery, along with advanced MRI diagnostics and robotic technology, can cost a hospital $1 million to acquire.
Many times, hospitals in Mexico simply can’t afford such technology for the low number of spine surgeries performed each year in a city.
This means for many people needing back surgery or neck surgery in Mexico, the surgeon will be using techniques and technology from the 1990s rather than the most advanced technology for spine surgery.
The same situation exists for artificial disc replacement in Mexico where such technology simply isn’t available because surgeons need to perform a high volume of such surgeries to become proficient.
There is significant training required to use minimally invasive instruments like tubular retractors. Many older surgeons, conversely, prefer to make a three-inch incision because it’s easier for them, and that’s how they’ve been trained, and they aren’t comfortable learning a new way or looking through a cannula to visualze the disc on a TV screen.
While minimally invasive spine surgery requires extensive training for the spine surgeon, the benefit of a tiny incision is huge to the patient, however. There is less blood loss and no need for outside blood. The minimally invasive spine surgery patient also can go home hours later, on the same day, to recover in their own home. Because the incision is shorter, there is less disruption to muscles and ligaments so the recovery is quicker and much less painful.
The ideal spine surgery procedure is one where there is minimal blood loss which eliminates the need for outside blood, and the inherent risks associated with outside blood. This explains why many spine surgery patients prefer to travel to a regional center that specializes in spine surgery.
Advanced spine surgery for Mexicans at Spine Physicians Institute in Dallas, Texas
Conversely, at Spine Physicians Institute, Dr. Venkat Sethuraman has access to the most advanced diagnostics and artificial disc technology. Dr. Sethuraman is able to match the artificial disc patient with the most appropriate artificial disc implant.
Within two or three hours, for example, a person can travel by plane from locations in Mexico like Monterey, Merida, Nuevo Leon, Guadalajara, Puebla, Mexico City and land at DFW International Airport.
Similarly there are direct flights to Dallas from Bahamas, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
If spine surgery is appropriate, Dr. Venkat Sethuraman can perform the necessary surgery in the morning and the international patient can start their recovery in a nearby hotel, relaxing at the hotel pool.
A follow-up visit with the spine surgeon can then release the international spine patient for travel back home.
The Spine Physicians Institute office is only a 30 minute ride from DFW International Airport. Our patient coordinator can provide assistance with hotel recommendations based on your visit and other attractions in Dallas Fort Worth you may want to see on your visit.
The spine surgeons at Spine Physicians Institute have certification and staff privileges to operate at several top ranked and renowned hospitals in the Dallas area including:
- Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas
- Texas Institute for Surgery • Dallas, Texas
- Medical City Dallas Spine Hospital • Dallas, Texas
- Methodist Hospital for Surgery • Addison, Texas
- North Texas Team Care Surgery Center • Mesquite, Texas
- Eminent Medical Center • Richardson, Texas
What happens if I wait too long to have spine surgery?
It’s understandable that back pain and neck pain patients in Mexico may want to delay treatment or a visit to the doctor as long as possible. However, unlike other medical issues where pain is a good indicator of an emergency or urgent need for care, with back and neck problems, pain is NOT a good indicator of an emergency symptom.
Yes a back spasm can be excruciating and knock a person down to their knees. But a back spasm does not require surgery. Back spasms can be treated non-surgically.
Instead, for back and neck problems, the emergency symptoms are weakness or numbness in a hand or foot, or loss of bowel/bladder control — something many people don’t associate with a herniated disc in the back or neck or any kind of spine injury.
But if these symptoms are not treated within 24 or 48 hours, the pressure of the herniated disc on the nerve root can cause permanent paralysis. This makes the numbness/weakness, or incontinence, permanent and lifelong.
Another somewhat urgent symptom for back pain and neck pain is “radicular pain” where the person feels searing pain radiating down into their leg from a herniated disc in the low back, or radiating pain into an arm from a herniated disc in the neck. While watchful waiting, or spinal injections, can be used for radicular pain, if the radiating pain symptom is not relieved over three to six months, some research studies show any subsequent surgery may not be effective in relieving the radiating pain.
In this sense, extended pressure on the nerve root causes a permanent crimp in the nerve, causing it to remain in a “stuck” position and constantly transmitting a pain signal to the brain. The best analogy is to picture a car sitting on a garden hose on the driveway. If the car sits there for a month before moving, it can leave a permanent crimp in the hose. The nerve works the same way. The longer the nerve is compressed by a herniated disc, the less likely it can return to normal function. Consequently, when a person has a herniated disc in the low back or neck, waiting too long can result in lifelong disability.
Is spine surgery better in the United States?
Beyond the medical urgency related to treatment of a herniated disc, the second reason thousands of international patients from Mexico and the Caribbean choose to have back surgery or neck surgery in the USA relates to access to the best and most advanced spine surgeons and spine technology.
For those who want to lessen their risk of permanent symptoms by avoiding the wait for treatment, and those who recognize that life is short and desire to get back to an active life quicker, Spine Physicians Institute can provide a better outcome from spine surgery.
The educational Internet site at SpinePhysiciansInstitute.com can answer many of your questions about nonsurgical treatment options for spine surgery, the benefit of an MRI review in advance of your travel to the United States, and if you should have spine surgery in the United States.
How bundled pricing helps the international patient
Spine Physicians Institute can provide competitively-priced bundled prices for spine treatment, diagnostic procedures like X-ray and MRI, as well as spine surgery at a hospital or outpatient treatment surgery center.
These bundled case rate prices address spinal injections and same-day minimally invasive spine surgeries. Spine surgeries that may be covered under a bundled price may include endoscopic discectomy, microdiscectomy, laminectomy, anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), and minimally invasive fusions.
On the form below, you can email us any questions you may have about your back or neck problem, any previous diagnosis you have, the costs of spine surgery at our spine center, travel to our center, the treatment process, and where we perform our surgeries.
Our Patient Care Coordinator can then receive any diagnostic information you have available such as X-rays, MRI, CT or diagnoses from your primary care physician or back doctor in Mexico.
Request more information
We welcome questions from international patients. Complete the form below and use the MESSAGE box, and we'll respond to your inquiry within 2 business days. Our Patient Care Coordinator can be reached by phone with urgent questions about your appointment request.
Venkat Sethuraman, MD is one of the few spine surgeons in the State of Texas who is fellowship trained at the world famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. At Spine Physicians Institute, Dr. Venkat Sethuraman also provides second opinions for spine surgery and MRI reviews for those with back pain and neck pain. Dr. Sethuraman emphasizes non-surgical options for back pain and neck pain where possible. This can include accessing a back pain specialist with expertise in pain-relieving spinal injections and referral to spine therapists. Spine therapy can include back stretches that can be a future home remedy for back pain or neck pain. If spine surgery is necessary because of a herniated disc, spinal fracture, or spinal stenosis, Dr. Venkat Sethuraman operates through tubular retractors that reduce the size of the incision, lessen blood loss, reduce time in the hospital, speed return to activity with a less painful recovery. This spine surgery expertise enables many patients to have outpatient spine surgery and be home the same day. Spine Physicians Institute and Dr. Venkat Sethuraman provides artificial disc replacement in the neck using the Prodisc artificial disc implant, one of the first FDA-approved discs for multiple levels in the neck. Dr. Sethuraman and Spine Physicians Institute is listed on SpineCenterNetwork.com which is the only national listing of spine centers that meet credentialing criteria. Click here to visit the SpineCenterNetwork.com.
Spine Physicians Institute treats back pain, neck pain, herniated discs, stenosis and other spine problems. Patients come to the spine center from across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Dr. Sethuraman is one of few Mayo Clinic fellowship-trained spine surgeons in the North Texas area. A fellowship is the highest level of medical education in the U.S.