Dr. Kang, Gibbeum Hospital, Stephen Kwon, and more REVIEW
Tagged: Dr. Kang Gibbeum Stephen Kwon
04/19/2022 at 2:20 am #31445
The obvious: This is going to be a lengthy review divided into two parts on this thread. I am going to cut to the chase regarding the basics on the diagnosis, repair, and outcome at the start. I will elaborate in further detail on other areas of interest related to the operation in the subsequent sections.
Was the repair successful: A resounding YES.
Would I recommend Dr. Kang and the Gibbeum Hospital: A resounding YES.
Was this one of the smartest decisions I have ever made in my life: A resounding YES
Was Stephen Kwon indispensable in making this experience effortless, easy, and enjoyable for an inexperienced international traveler who only speaks English (maybe a little Spanish badly): A resounding YES
Recommend Stay: 2 weeks in some cases like mine but 1 week minimum.
Left side DIRECT inguinal hernia, large (egg size), deep field difficult
No indirect sac was found
Defect of Hesselback triangle was closed in two layers continuously with 2-0 prolene sutures.
Spermatic cord and cremaster muscle were not touched or damaged.
No nerve was cut.
External oblique aponeurosis and subcutaneous fat were closed with 2-0 Vicryl (absorbable sutures)
Skin was closed with medical glue
Umbilical hernia 1cm
Herniated fat was removed
Defect was closed with 3-0 Prolene continuously
Subcutaneous fat was closed with 2-0 Vicryl (absorbable sutures)
Skin was closed with medical glue
*Little bleeding during the operation.
Day 1 – Initial consultation with Dr. Kang. Testing at hospital. Ultrasound, blood, urine, X-ray. I did not spend the night.
Day 2 – Arrival at hospital in the morning. Surgery with Dr. Kang and his team. Stayed the night.
Day 3 – Meeting with Dr. Kang and nurses prior to discharge. Left around noon to go back to hotel and recover.
Day 4 to 11 – Recovery. 5th day *after* surgery did extensive amount of walking. 7th day after surgery even more walking plus a lot of steps.
Day 12 – Meeting with Dr. Kang. Final ultrasound and verified “perfect” outcome.
Sonogram / surgery was done prior to the surgery and about 12 days after (usually 14 but I had to leave on a Sunday)
Sonogram clearly showed all the defected areas (direct left side and umbilical) prior to surgery as well as ruling out hernias on the right side, indirect, etc.
Final sonogram at 12 day showed excellent repair and body healing normal with no recurrence.
AFTER SURGERY WHAT TO EXPECT:
These are typical with open repair non-mesh inguinal hernia repair and will vary in degree based on a lot of factors (size and location of hernia, pain tolerance, are you at your “fighting” weight prior to surgery?, age, etc.).
*I am going to focus strictly on the inguinal hernia in this section because the umbilical was nearly non-existent in terms of pain, complications, etc. in all categories and not even worth the effort in mentioning.
SWELLING: There is going to be some swelling. I tried to really get out and walk A LOT including careful maneuvering of staircases at day 7. This even included walking back and forth in my hotel room with breaks during the first few days. Swelling is probably going to happen at the incision site and possibly @ the testicle side where you had the operation. Any excess fluid in your testicle gets reabsorbed (as I understand it and experienced) and goes away. My experience is that I saw noticeable differences about every 2 days and at the two week mark the swelling is nearly gone. Because my hernia was LARGE and difficult, I expected mine to last a little longer than a smaller hernia repair. One of the reasons not to wait imho.
NUMBNESS: I had the typical but temporary minor numbness around the surgical area, inner part of thigh. I started seeing it fade significantly and go back to normal after about a week. Some people report less some a little longer. I have read it could take up to a month a more too. Not a big deal. Imho.
TENSION (aka pulling sensation at site of hernia repair): This is normal and probably the most noticeable post-op recovery “pain” you will feel. Understand this dissipates with time. The first week after about 10 to 15mins of standing or walking I had to sit down to “reset” my body. The pulling sensation would start to happen around that 15min mark and grow in intensity. Sitting down provided immediate relief. 8-10 day mark I could start to stand and walk with minimal tension sensation for long periods of time. I still tried to rest often just to error on the side of caution in my mind but was not necessary. Day 14 I walked all over the airport forgetting to rest at all sometimes.
PAIN: I would describe the pain as what I expected given my hernia size, scope of the repair, and all other factors. Day 1 was the most intense and required assistance from my buddy who came with me to get up and go to the restroom. I used the automatic bed (very helpful) to sit me upright then he could pull me up careful and I could hobble over to the toilet and use the ADA rails from there. Remember I had an UMBLICAL hernia as well and this was probably the only day where I noticed it. I was also trying to be extra careful not to screw anything up.
OTHER CONTRIBUTING FACTORS: What could I have done better to help Dr. Kang, myself, and even possibly avoided the operation?
My direct hernia was self-inflicted.
I was forcing myself to cough over an extremely minor tickle in the back of throat. The cough lasted 4-6 weeks and I was annoyed and frustrated. I forgot I am in my 40s now, forgot I am not indestructible, and coughed each time with the magnitude of seven earthquakes even lifting my leg up on a few occasions for “extra sport”. I knew better and it was pretty *!#$ stupid. If I had stopped coughing so hard the moment I started noticing minor movement near the inguinal canal the damage would have most likely been much smaller.
A significant drop in activity during the “COVID years” also did not do me any favors and compounded the issue. This snuck up on me faster than I could have ever expected. I have always been very active, lifted free weights, and involved in sports.
Prior to the operation I did get a tad closer to my “fighting” weight, but I still had a good 20lbs to lose regardless. On a quick side note: the ideal weight on the Shouldice Hospital is a bad metric to use. I am a little over 6’2” and on the high-end scale it would have put me around 217lbs. I was advised by my previously retired and current GP never to drop below 210lbs under any circumstance for my height, muscle build, etc. This is when I expressed interest to my GPs to start working out again after COVID and get back into my “fighting weight”. The low end of Shouldice weight scale would have required me to lose extensive muscle mass and introduce my body to an unhealthy low weight and potentially formidable medical complications.
My conclusion on this section – Doctors like Dr. Kang who possess the intelligence, surgical prowess, and all the other intangibles that make him a world class doctor is the reason why I trusted him and his methods. Dr. Kang is a doctor that can deal with all types of adversities using his method and has even performed the procedure on very elderly patients with excellent results. Dr. Grischkan gets honorable mention because he shared the same analysis as Dr. Kang, my GPs, and myself.
Dr. Kang did the best and most advanced medical procedure possible on me for the damage that was present. This point forward it is up to me to make sure I do what is needed in my best interest to heal, get stronger, and avoid a recurrence or damage elsewhere.
Dr. Kang is an incredibly intelligent, extremely efficient, and driven doctor that maintains a genuine obsession for finding the perfect solution to hernia repairs. Dr. Kang’s only hobby is hernia repair. If he is not in the hospital seeing patients, he is outside the hospital working on something related to improving the process of hernia repair and the outcome for his patients.
Dr. Kang exudes the right kind of confidence you want in a surgeon that resolved my overactive anxiety.
Dr. Kang and his staff have phenomenal bedside manner which really helped me reduce stress before, during, and after the hernia surgery process.
Stephen Kwon was the most important factor in my decision outside of Dr. Kang and the procedure itself. Stephen was instrumental in calming my nerves and streamlining everything at the hospital perfectly. Looking back, I could not have begun to coordinate this surgery without him. I would have been a mess. As an English speaking foreigner, Stephen Kwon was a big part of making this surgery possible for me.
Stephen Kwon rolls out the red carpet for Dr. Kang’s international patients and this guarantees you will have a positive experience from start to finish.
Overall recovery especially during week 1 was so much easier with Stephen’s assistance.
I spent most of my trip with Stephen. Putting the business of surgery aside for a moment he and his wife are exceptional human beings. I can’t express how gracious they were and how much I enjoyed South Korea with him as a guide. Also having him put up with one of my friends that I took with me proves he has the patience of a saint! (LOL).
Stephen is just a really good dude that takes excellent care of you during your stay.
Final thoughts for part 1:
#1. I feel I dodged a bullet avoiding the Shouldice repair. Time will tell but since I did not have an indirect Hernia I could not have imagined repairing the entire inguinal floor “unnecessarily” in the absence of an indirect hernia. Taking part of the cremaster muscle would have bothered me even just partially in the case of the modified Shouldice version from Dr. Grischkan. Dr. Yunis would have been a good option to avoid that scenario although he prefers Desarada for open tissue repair and his facilities are limited in regard to my personal preferences.
#2. Shouldice would have still been my second choice after Dr. Kang. I cannot imagine a scenario where I would consider mesh. Maybe if the Dr. Kang repair was not possible and I was over the age of 65? I most likely would never consider Desarada.
#3. I do believe surgeon skill and their surgical experience play the biggest role in success of hernia repair regardless of what type of open tissue non-mesh repair or any type of mesh repair.
#4. I would do the Dr. Kang procedure again if I had a repair on the right side or an indirect hernia.
#5. Dr. Kang repair and the overall experience was the best possible scenario for me. Dr. Kang’s explanations on other repair procedures and his repair procedures are well thought out, researched, and substantiated with results. I look forward to the Dr. Kang procedure gaining more traction as his long-term results are proven correct.
#6. Dr. Kang looked over at me a few moments before starting surgery and said do you want permanent sutures (prolene) or are you still set on absorbable? At that point I was on the table I pretty much said whatever you think is best lol (which was prolene). I was dead set against permanent sutures before the procedure but my trust in Dr. Kang (and pinto unknowingly swaying me by his choice) changed my mind. I feel a lot better sticking with Dr. Kang’s choice of using prolene and no regrets.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor (although I think I could play on effectively on TV).
Do not take anything I say as medical advice. Consult an expert like Dr. Kang, Dr. Towfigh, Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Yunis, etc. etc.
Do your own research (including considering my personal non-doctor opinion and experience from this thread!).
Make an informed decision for yourself based on all the facts researched and your own personal medical circumstance.
***PART 1 END***
WILL COVER THE FOLLOWING IN MORE DETAIL –
Gibbeum Hospital. Fantastic facility and I can’t speak more highly of the staff. They were amazing with superhuman efficiency.
South Korea. It was awesome. Beautiful country, safe despite the size, and I felt welcomed the entire time. I can’t speak highly enough about that part of this experience.
04/19/2022 at 2:58 am #31446
Also yes I know I spelled Desarda wrong. LOL
I edited in a few things quickly after I posted and didn’t have a chance to correct typo before it locked me out.
Hopefully a moderator here can edit that and delete this. lol
04/19/2022 at 5:17 am #31447
Brilliant Mike, thanks very much for that. Greatly appreciated and very helpful.
I’m sure there will be loads of questions. But some that I would be please to have answered would be…
Cost: for me this is a bit of a factor as I’d be from UK and staying… How much do you think the total bill was? Including 2 week hotel stay, food, everything really
Pain relief: Did you take anything? How long for?
Constipation: Did you take laxitives as a precaution?
Sonograph: is this included in operation price?
Once again, thanks very much for being so thoughtful as to leave such a detailed review. I am determined to travel to south Korea now. I may have to wait for some payments and finance in place but your report has put my mind at rest and helped make decision fae easier.
04/19/2022 at 6:12 am #31448
You can do it for a lot less than I paid.
#1. I paid for two people (myself and a friend) to fly out first class with only 1 stop (there was no non-stop from my location). While you might not need first class I highly recommend against economy class. Do the next one up for it for minimal increase but a lot more comfort on a long flight. Economy is not ideal for only a week stay with this type of surgery even with a small hernia repair imho. Ideally you can fly out American Airlines upgraded economy for around $2k. Business class and first class are sort of the same now with the new flagship American airlines class. You get your own private cubical with lay flat seats. These are around $6k each depending on the dates.
#2. Hotels vary widely and depend on market condition deals. I was able to book an amazing 5 star hotel through Priceline for only $130 per night. The same room is normally $250 and up. There are some cheaper 4 star hotel options that are really nice too. intercontinental was a great location and the staff spoke great English. Service was exceptional, mall was located below the hotel, everything within walking distance except the hospital which was an easy 20min taxi ride away with good traffic. Breakfast was included at the Intercontinental.
#3. Prices on food, merch, clothes, etc are most expensive near the hotel but get extremely reasonable as you go further away the tourist areas. There was a fantastic Korean BBQ place near the hotel that was extremely well priced too. About a 5min walk. Shuttle app is your best friend if you want to order food in and is very reasonable too. Shuttle app is designed for foreigners in Korea and I had zero issues with it my entire stay. I used it a lot at night.
#4. Procedure itself with a private room was around $4k total because I had two hernias. This is less than most people’s deductible nowadays since the quality of health care in the US has plummeted while the costs have skyrocketed. Single hernia with private room would be close to $2700 US dollars with a private room.
$1000 per week hotel on the high end places with a good deal. $2750 for procedure with private room and single hernia. $2000 for upgraded economy ticket. $500 for food per week is overkill if you eat at normal places. Add another $1000 for good measure you are probably at $7250. If you have a long flight and can squeeze it get the flagship class seat and you will have a perfect flight.
Pain relief – The medicine the hospital gave me was good. I did need an extra shot the day after surgery to get home but after the first day or two it wasn’t too bad. Manageable by careful movement and the pain medicine they gave me. You can take two of their pills every 4 hours as needed preferably with a meal.
I used the stool softener 3 times a day and 30 minutes after each meal. I had no issues and never had to “pushed” once. No diarrhea or anything crazy either. I was extremely careful and took it slow. I ate beef and rice mostly and drank bottled water provided by the hospital and hotel. It was delicious.
I absolutely knew going into it there was going to be some pain but it was a small price to pay for the pain now rather than later with the mesh. Just know it DOES improve and will go away including the tension.
Sonogram and everything else is included in the hospital price. No hidden fees or extra charges for medicine or anything like that at all.
04/19/2022 at 6:21 am #31449
How did you get from hospital to hotel? I ask as I believe Pinto and Dr Kang think it may have been bumpy taxi that caused issues for Pinto?
It may not be an issue for those stayed at hospital though. But thought I’d better check.
04/19/2022 at 7:07 am #31450
I had zero issues with any of the roads there. The roads were exceptional throughout the city compared to a major US city.
The bumpy taxi ride did not cause the issue with Pinto. The hernia he had was called a “sliding” hernia that is rare and was not detected with the initial sonogram. A sliding inguinal hernia is defined as a hernia where part of the hernial sac wall is formed by an organ, e.g., the colon or bladder. Thus, repair of a sliding inguinal hernia may have higher risk of complications and recurrence compared with non-sliding inguinal hernia.
Sliding hiatal hernia is more common 10% to as high as 60%. Sliding inguinal hernia is not common 3%-8%.
Once the sliding hernia was identified Dr. Kang was able to repair it successfully on the second time around. Obviously the assumption is if was detected on the first time around it would not have an been an issue.
Movement in the car caused zero issues even on day 1 for me. The day 1 issue with me was just standing and walking LOL. Sitting and laying around was pure joy. But understand the hernia repair is EXTERMELY strong. It is very typical for patients to be ultra paranoid about it breaking the first few weeks but it is solid. I heard a lot of stories including one with a patient tripping at the airport, feeling movement, but it was 100% fine. I was equally paranoid rehabbing the first week but you have to trust in Dr. Kang. It’s incredibly strong as long as you don’t do anything ridiculous and take it easy for the first few weeks.
04/19/2022 at 10:19 am #31451
Oh thats right, I remember now it was just initially Pinto and Dr Kang thought the taxi journey may have been the cause, then Pinto had imagery for something else and the sliding hernia was discovered.
Think I’m getting forgetful!
04/19/2022 at 9:19 pm #31453
great read, looking forward to part 2
good luck on full recovery
04/19/2022 at 9:46 pm #31454MonikaParticipant
Hi Mike ,
Did you have just a local anesthetiser for you inguinal and umbilical hernia ?
04/20/2022 at 9:15 am #31456
04/20/2022 at 1:11 pm #31466MonikaParticipant
Thank you Mike , I have umbilical and inguinal hernia as well, and in Australia no doctor wants to perform umbilical hernia with just sedation .Really appreciate all you great information.
04/20/2022 at 1:55 pm #31467
Mike, what stops you moving with local anaesthetic
04/20/2022 at 2:07 pm #31468
I am very glad you had such a positive experience with Dr. Kang and you have done the community a great service with your detailed posts.
I think we might quibble over the cremaster concerns and maybe recovery time, but these discussions are very productive and highlighting another reliable tissue repair option is a wonderful thing.
Aside from the way he differentially treats direct and indirect hernias, which itself is quite interesting, I’m particularly intrigued by his assertions that using mesh is *always* avoided in inguinal repairs regardless of patient characteristics (age, weight, etc.), hernia size and complexity, and even tissue quality…all of which goes even further than what Shouldice would maintain.
I wish we could have some direct discussion and debate between surgeons. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to have a top Shouldice surgeon sit down with Dr. Kang for a congenial chat? Two guys who have done many thousands of tissue repairs, who both strongly believe tissue > mesh, who could offer deep insight into why they do things they way they do, and who could question each other on the merits of their respective approaches?
I know he keeps his own data, but I really hope Dr. Kang takes steps to have his work formally studied and published. If his overall approach and repair methods are indeed this good, that is the path to getting his message out there and eventually having his methods taught. I’m dismayed that there is not more than one Shouldice Hospital out there…and perhaps there should be more than one Gibbeum Hospital too!
Thanks for taking the time to document your experience.
04/20/2022 at 3:32 pm #31470
@WB The OR Table you are strapped down. Sedation can be lights out and/or twilight. I woke up the last 15 mins of the Umbilical repair though and managed to watch part of the repair through the reflection of the OR light which was pretty awesome. I was super chill in twilight mode and gave the doc the thumbs up when he asked me if I was ok.
Initially I was dead set on being asleep at all throughout the entire procedure up until the doc rolled in with his team. I’m glad I took a little nap during the first part / inguinal portion tbh. I was feeling the anxiety at showtime more than I would have anticipated.
@MarkT Did you have your cremaster cut and/or reduced through another repair and had no issues? I just did not want to chance it just in case.
My hernia was not the worst but it was complicated because of the size and depth. A lot more involved than the typical case. Recovery is on track with everything I researched from other similar cases and what multiple doctors (Shouldice and Dr. Kang) have previously told me it would be prior and post surgery. Dr. Grischkan would have used some polybuster on me for his shouldice procedure given the size. I am glad Dr. Kang was able to successfully avoid that tbh but I completely understand why it would be used for Shouldice. Dr. Kang repair is not as tensionless as mesh or Desarda but less than Shouldice from what I understand. At the end of the day you have to take a leap of faith to a degree with any of the possible procedures and doctors. Pinto did a tremendous amount of research on Dr. Kang prior to my surgery. He had a tricky one too and his final outcome was a great experience.
I think once Dr. Kang retires what you suggested might be a real possibility. Stephen Kwon is translating Dr. Kang’s new book to English now which is a start.
There might not be one main Shouldice hospital but Dr. Towfigh, Dr. Yunis, and Dr. Grischkan all do Shouldice procedures which was a serious consideration for sure.
I appreciate all the support from everyone and I am doing fantastic now.
04/22/2022 at 9:14 am #31478
@mikem – I’ve had two repairs for inguinal hernias done at Shouldice Hospital (right side ~30yrs ago, left side ~18yrs ago). I don’t have the surgical notes, but assume the cremaster was cut or reduced, since that is standard practise there. My cremaster reflex functions fine and from what I can tell, both repairs have been flawless…no post-op issues, zero chronic pain to this day, no restriction on lifestyle (swimming, yoga, weight training, etc.), I can’t recall ‘tension’ being an issue during recovery, but it has been a while.
In addition to the three docs you mentioned, there is also Dr. Sbayi @ Stony Brook in NY. He worked at Shouldice for 1yr and continues to perform that repair with many hundreds of them under his belt.
Great news that Stephen is translating Dr. Kang’s book…I’ve been impressed with what I’ve read of him and his work, of course from the experiences of you and others. I hope anyone else here who chooses him will also post about their experiences.
04/20/2022 at 3:39 pm #31471
I meant being dead set against being asleep btw. Edit mode disappeared too quickly.
04/21/2022 at 4:10 am #31472
Thanks Mike, again. I agree with Mike T, your posts are a great help to us all, so many thanks again for taking time to do them.
One more thing concerning me… Dr Kang and retirement… I’ve never thought about that before as when I’ve seen photos of him he looks so young. Is he thinking if retirement? Hope not in the foreseeable future as I’m hoping to go near end of year?
04/22/2022 at 12:18 am #31476roger555Participant
Is Dr Kang the only doctor who can do the kang repair well? I read on his web site that he does almost all of the repairs. What if he is no longer doing them which will happen when he retires? Will that be the end of the kang repair? Does it require extraordinary skills that only dr Kang or very few have?
04/22/2022 at 12:42 am #31477
There was no indication to me that Dr. Kang was retiring anytime soon.
It is my understanding that the other doctors (including his son) are very successful in completing Kang repairs as they perform them every single day in mass.
I would assume Dr. Kang’s information regarding recurrence, chronic pain, etc. are for his hospital as a whole and not just for him performing the procedure personally.
His new book clearly shows the other surgeons who perform the repair along side Dr. Kang.
These would be great questions for Dr. Kang or Stephen Kwon.
All Hernia repair surgeries including surgeons that use mesh require extraordinary skills that are uncommon imho. This topic of discussion is one the thing all of the best Hernia surgeons and hospitals seem to agree on regardless of the type of repair.
There was a discussion previously on the Shouldice hospitals in CA negative vs. positive reviews that were channeled towards specific doctors and not the hospital or procedure itself. The biggest issue a lot of potential candidates had with that hospital was the inability to pick the doctor.
04/22/2022 at 11:05 am #31479
I actually live right across shouldice hospital and despite this i will go and get treatment from Dr Kang.
The issue with shouldice is that they’ve committed to the “if it ain’t broken don’t fix it” attitude. Shouldice still refuses to use sonography as a tool for diagnosis. They still do the traditional physical examination method only. When you bring them your ultrasound result from your GP, they will ignore it.
Even post surgery, instead of using skin glue or a suture to close the wound, they staple it like it’s still the 1990s. Their technique just hasn’t evolved at all.
They also require you to stay like a week in their hotel which also looks like it’s from the past.
This is usually what happens when you lack competition in the space. Shouldice has always been the #1 go to for non-mesh repair. I do hope that as Kang method enters into competition that it will wake them up
04/22/2022 at 5:21 pm #31480
Personally, I think that is crazy to fly to Korea and take on unnecessary risk and expense if you truly live ‘across the street’ from Shouldice, but to each their own.
The main reasons I could see someone choosing Dr. Kang over Shouldice is the inability to choose the surgeon at Shouldice, or because the patient is not Canadian and would need to travel and pay ‘full price’ for their repair anyway…and yet neither of those are mentioned among your concerns.
Making decisions about your health because of things like an ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ cliché or the antiquated ‘hotel’ strikes me as very shortsighted, as neither is relevant to what SHOULD be your primary concerns: the quality of the repair and your expected outcomes. Why is staying there for several nights an issue if you are willing to fly to Korea???
Not sure why the closure method factors in either. The closure is strong and reliable, yielding a narrow scar that fades with time. They remove the pins before you are discharged…takes a few minutes. Perhaps not ideal, but is that really a concern?
While I do wish they would amend this policy, Shouldice’s reliance on physical exam (which AFAIK all surgeons will do, even if they have imaging) should mainly be a concern only for the small minority of patients who have a hidden/occult (non-palpable) hernia. The Shouldice method makes missing a secondary hernia extremely unlikely too.
Part of the reason for relying on physical exam is that it does remain the easiest and highly reliable way to diagnose a hernia…and because imaging can be poorly done, misread by clinicians or radiologists who are not hernia experts, and can yield false positives (see Dr. Towfigh’s published work for more on those points). Shouldice will tell you they see a number of patients each year who have false positives from imaging.
There is plenty of competition in the space…millions of hernia repairs are performed each year…but if you want a Shouldice repair, you either need to go there, find another surgeon who offers it (and who comparatively performs a fraction of the number of those repairs), or else choose another repair method (and Dr. Kang does indeed seem like a good one).
I don’t think going to Dr. Kang is a bad thing and I’m guessing you will be quite satisfied in the en…it just seems like a rather dubious decision if you are ‘across the street’ from Shouldice and haven’t even cited the main concerns that some have with going there (choice of surgeon being the main one).
04/22/2022 at 11:16 pm #31481
I hate this website sometimes. I wrote a very long reply but it disappeared so i am rewriting it again
I’ve made a post about my situation before but i am korean. I visit korea often and have family members there. Many of the expenses that the average person needs to spend on (like hotel fees) aren’t applicable to me because i have a place in Seoul. Although i don’t have insurance in korea, $3000 is not steep for me. Since i am going to korea anyways, it’s not far fetched that i would choose Kang over Shouldice.
I think that Doctors should use every tool they can to accurately diagnose their patients. There is not a single good argument that could be made for why Shouldice refuses to use ultrasound alongside their physical examination. My left hernia is an occult hernia and physical examination failed to diagnose it. It wasn’t until i got an ultrasound done that i knew it was a hernia. If you look through 1 star reviews of Shouldice clinic, many of them are complaints about the diagnosis process. Patients will bring their own ultrasound result and Shouldice will still continue to reject it. I would hope that if a surgeon is planning to do a surgery that they would do everything they can to diagnose their patients to the best of their abilities first. I don’t think that this is too much to ask. There really is no downside to the usage of ultrasound
Shouldice clinic making people stay several days after surgery is a way for them to squeeze every penny out of you btw. Shouldice is a private clinic afterall. In Canada, OHIP (healthcare) covers the cost of the surgery itself. However, you have to pay for the “hotel” stays in order to get a surgery at the clinic. There aren’t many modern hernia repair clinics and hospitals out there (whether it be mesh or non-mesh) that will force its patients to stay several days. It is completely unnecessary and just a waste of time. Additionally, for OHIP patients like me, the wait time for shouldice is actually rather quite long. Shouldice prioritizes patients who are paying out of their pockets. If i am going to have to wait like 6 months, i might as well just fly to korea since i am going there anyways.
Speaking of long stay at the clinic, the staples that Shouldice uses contributes to this late discharge. They remove the staples after 2-3 days. From the stories ive read of people’s experience in Shouldice, the staples seem to cause some level of discomfort. In my opinion, the aftercare of the surgery matters just as much as the surgery itself. Why is Shouldice opting for staples when a much more comfortable and better option is available for the patient? Even surgeons outside of Shouldice Clinic who have adopted Shouldice method to their repair don’t use staples anymore. It’s obviously not a deal breaker but these things do add up.
Of course the quality of the facility matters when you are going to have to spend several days there. I don’t know if i need to say more about this. I don’t want to stay in a old looking hotel for several days in discomfort.
I am not completely against Shouldice. If for whatever reason Kang doesn’t work, Shouldice is my second option. It’s just that given various different reasons, i am choosing Kang over Shouldice.
There is actually a small internet blog written by a Canadian hernia mesh surgeon who pretty much have similar complaints that i have towards Shouldice, you can check it out here:
As for the dubious claim that i live across Shouldice, here is a picture of my driver’s license with sensitive information censored:
As you can see, i live in Thornhill ON Canada. If you input that in Google maps, it should highlight the general area where Shouldice is.
The reason why i am doing this is that your skepticism is justified. Anyone on the internet can make any claims. I could be a paid shill from Dr Kang for all anyone knows.
04/22/2022 at 11:29 pm #31482
Forgot to mention, my occult hernia is a factor in why i am going to Kang instead. Shouldice doesn’t operate on small hernias. My occult hernia is causing pain and i need it addressed
04/23/2022 at 11:53 am #31484
@emuboy2000 – I appreciate you taking the time to respond and expand upon your decision. I had not seen your previous posts, so this has been helpful. BTW, I was not doubting that you actually lived near Shouldice, in case that was not clear…I mean that I perceived the decision to go to Korea as dubious, given that you live near Shouldice.
Clearly the added context of being Korean and still having ties to Korea, is very relevant. Further, having a hidden/occult hernia is *extremely* relevant to your position and the criticism that Shouldice will not rely on imaging and will only operate on a palpable hernia (and I share that critical viewpoint – I think imaging clearly has much to offer – its flaws should just be recognized).
I understand the points you make about the longer stay, staples, and the ‘always having done it this way’. I think Shouldice should indeed modernize some of its procedures and policies, including updating the hospital and beds, considering alternative closing methods, and offering an option to not stay for several days. Personally, these are not enough of a ‘negative’ (and the stay is positive in some ways) to sway a decision when the procedure and outcome should be the priorities, but I understand each person will have their own thoughts about that.
I find “The problem with Shouldice” blog to be riddled with problems. Virtually every criticism and point raised by that surgeon has little (if anything) to do with patient outcomes and typically doesn’t even consider the patient perspective. She talks about the ‘fairness’ of Shouldice being able to cherry pick patients, being grandfathered into the OHIP system as a private hospital, that she would be bored doing the same thing every day, etc…it’s all valid criticism of the SYSTEM, but near-irrelevant from a patient perspective.
In any case, thank you for expanding upon your previous post. Your decision makes more sense to me now. I don’t want to appear to be a “Shouldice shill” either…I had good experiences there, recognize what they could update or do better, and I am very pleased to see Dr. Kang being another tissue repair option. If you do go, I hope you will post about your experiences the way Mike M has done.
04/23/2022 at 10:11 am #31483WatchfulParticipant
Dan – My understanding is that the Shouldice Hospital doesn’t operate on these small “occult” hernias because they don’t believe surgery is warranted for those. I don’t know if this is valid or not, but that’s their view, which I’m guessing is based on their experience.
The big concern for many of us considering that place is primarily that you don’t get to select your surgeon. Out of the dozen or so surgeons there, there are 2 or 3 who have a significant number of bad reviews. Also, they do have trainees who operate under supervision. The other issues you mentioned are a factor as well, but not as significant.
The Dr. Kang approach is indeed very appealing for indirect hernias. A tissue repair that works extremely well according to his numbers, while requiring a much less extensive surgery than the Shouldice procedure.
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