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Five Medical Procedures With Excessive Price Tags

As people get older, their bodies are more susceptible to illness and injury, leading to surgery. Healthcare costs are not negligible by any means. Some types of surgeries can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, excluding the patient’s post-operative care, hospital stay, and medication required afterward.

Healthy living can prevent many conditions that require surgery to affect a senior’s body. But, in case they do, here are five of the most expensive surgeries many seniors undergo:

Exploratory chest surgery

While this is often a medical practitioner’s last resort, exploratory chest surgery is contemplated when doctors need to explore the chest cavity to diagnose or remediate a problem. Surgeons tend to try less invasive options to correct conditions that they can identify. However, they will not hesitate to perform this procedure in a life-threatening emergency to effectively treat a patient.

During a thoracotomy, a doctor creates an incision in the chest wall, which lies between the ribs. The chest is then ‘cracked open’ so that a surgeon can access their patient’s heart, lungs, and esophagus. 

This surgery alone will cost over a hundred thousand dollars, and even with Medicare, the copayments alone can be financially crippling. Russell Noga of MediSupps is an expert in Medicare Supplement Plans for 2021, which will provide you with some additional cover that minimizes any financial impacts of such major surgery.

Transplant surgery

Any organ transplant surgery has a high price tag attached to it. It is an intensive, invasive surgery that can take hours to complete. Numerous blood vessels must be severed from the damaged organ and then reattached to a donor organ. The amount of time spent in the operating theater and how many doctors are involved in organ transplant surgery explain why such procedures are expensive.

Additionally, treatment required while waiting for a donor is costly. For instance, patients with kidney failure need dialysis sessions. Post-operative care includes taking immunosuppressants to ensure that the body does not reject its new organ. Transplant surgery includes replacing the liver, kidneys, lungs, or heart.

Non-invasive heart surgery

Heart operations have come a long way in recent decades. There is no longer a need for open-heart surgery in all cases. However, these less invasive surgery techniques require expensive equipment to make them a possibility. 

Examples include a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) during which a collapsible replacement heart valve is delivered to the damaged area with a catheter. Mitral valve repair is also done non-invasively, although it costs upward of $50,000.

Vascular bypass surgery

In a vascular bypass graft procedure, damaged arteries are circumvented by redirecting blood to healthy blood vessels. Blood flow then bypasses its usual route to another one that does not contain damaged arteries. A damaged artery cannot facilitate adequate blood flow, leading to ischemia. For patients of advanced age, this procedure is most commonly done in the heart and legs.

Surgeons use grafts in this surgery to connect a pathway between the blood vessel and the alternate one it will be flowing to in the future. Grafts are made from the patient’s own veins, Teflon, Dacron, or another patient’s veins.

Pacemakers and defibrillators

These lifesaving devices help patients who experience problems with their heart rate. A pacemaker can control abnormal heart rhythms, while a defibrillator sends small electric shocks to a heart that beats unevenly, too slow, or too fast. It can restart the heart if it stops suddenly.

These devices do not come cheap and nor do the procedures for inserting them. Additionally, they need to be replaced after prolonged use. Removal and replacement surgery might cost more than an initial insertion operation.

Posted by Emily Dawson on Oct 27, 2020 5:05 AM Europe/London

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