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Medical tourism is booming because of lower costs and excellent care

You can save up to 60 percent on medical treatments in Bulgaria compared to other European countries. The country is slowly establishing itself on the international medical stage, attracting patients from the EU as well as Israel and Russia. Cutbacks in health budgets at home have prompted people from Western Europe to seek cheaper medical procedures abroad, when they can be sure it will be accompanied by expert care. A recent analysis showed that over 50,000 Britons go abroad every year for this very reason. The numbers are set to rise for some years to come: an EU directive will go into effect in 2013, allowing patients to recover the cost of treatment within any member state, as long as their national health system covers the procedure. Bulgaria has been pinpointed by the same analysis as one of the most probable destinations for future medical tourism.

There is already a strong tradition in this country and many foreign patients have appreciative stories to tell of Bulgarian dental care and fertility treatment. Complicated but vital operations such as knee joint replacement or laser sight correction are performed at specialised hospitals for those who prefer not to join the waiting list at home or who do not have adequate health coverage. Some prefer to adjust their appearance for much less with Bulgarian plastic surgeons. They then combine convalescing with a beach holiday before heading back with shining new looks. The professionalism of the medical staff, together with the privately run medical centres equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment tools, has won the trust of many patients.

The road is not without its pitfalls, though. The search for 'as cheap as possible' treatment has created a market for low-quality work, especially in dentistry, which falls apart as soon as you go home and generates scare stories of Bulgarian medics. The business is not without its share of fraudsters, but common sense can help you avoid trouble. Scrutinise carefully the credentials of your chosen doctor and find out exactly which materials will be used in treatment. Go for centres that have already built up a reputation. Although their price list might be steeper, and they may have a more conservative attitude when it comes to very newest fads or experimental treatments, you will be better off, unless you really know that you need this exact procedure.

Apart from the healthy number of dental clinics, which Bulgarians use as well, medical centres specialising in various conditions are scattered throughout the country. Few places are large enough to offer everything under the same roof, but interdisciplinary teams are available. Packages are a comfortable way to get a full service, especially if you have come for a complete checkup.

Want to get a trusted second opinion? Transferring the results from your tests is not difficult if you are at the right place. With ProVita Medical Centre you have the potential of telemedicine at your disposal. The centre has the full range of imaging diagnostics apparatus – from magnetic resonance and computer tomography to echograph and X-ray. Results from the diagnostics can be sent to your preferred specialist abroad within the minute, as well as transferred to CD. ProVita stresses on prophylactic examinations to prevent serious diseases such as osteoporosis, MRI, diabetes and breast cancer – and you will get these from the best diagnostics specialists.

The high standards of practice in Bulgarian medical centres is often due to procedures and trainings imported from other countries such as the United States or Britain. This goes especially for complex treatments and examinations such as prenatal diagnostics and intervention. The specialists in Medical Centre St Petka in Sofia are the only ones in Bulgaria working by the standards of the Fetal Medicine Foundation in London. They trace the growing number of foetal conditions and anomalies and can give information about the risks and the possible intra-uterus intervention.

Medical concerns such as fertility problems can also be treated in Bulgaria – with great success. One of the renowned centres that deals with sterility treatments and embryology is ReproBioMed in Sofia, which offers up-to-date advice and exploration of sterility causes in the couple. Both men and women can get their reproductive parameters determined here with special emphasis on prophylaxis and attention to future problems that might develop. The centre's extensive list of services includes: laboratory and diagnostic medical procedures, assisted reproductive technoliges (IVF, ICSI, cryobanking, etc), as well as genetic examinations of the parents and diagnostics of miscarriage causes.

Patients with reproductive problems can use the services of InVitro Medical Centre Dimitrov, established by Dr Yosif Dimitrov, one of the specialists who introduced in vitro in Bulgaria. The centre specialises in treating all kinds of male and female infertility, as well as crioconservation of reproductive, tissue and stem cells. It employs an embryologist certified by ESHRE, while the consultant is the Austrian professor Feichtinger, leader of the team which accomplished the first in vitro baby in Austria. The centre is the only one in Bulgaria that is a member of the international association of in vitro clinics APART. To answer the questions of couples with problems, InVitro organises free consultancy each last Sunday of the month, which is individual and completely anonymous.

The complexities of giving birth are mitigated with a well-experienced team at hand – such as that of the specialised obstetrics hospital Prof. Dr Dimitar Stamatov in Varna. The hospital helps diagnose and treat gynaecological problems, services the births and gives rehabilitation and support to newborns with very low birth weight or vital system problems. Equipped laboratories offer imaging and medical tests of mother and foetus, while the specialists in pathological and high-risk pregnancies give information on the best course of treatment. EU citizens receive state-reimbursed health care, with equal prices for Bulgarians and foreigners.

Medical centre Femina is a specialised outpatient clinic focusеd оn pregnancy, maternity and female wellbeing in all ages. The centre performs all routine outpatient diagnostic procedures in obstetrics and gynecology, as well as a wide range of highly specialised activities requiring unique and sophisticated equipment and expertise, such as prenatal screening and diagnosis, fetal medicine, 3D and 4D ultrasound imaging, Doppler studies, echomammography and many more.

One of the finest solutions for any type of ophthalmological problems is Den Eye Clinic. Located in a cosy building in central Sofia, it was among the first private clinics in the country and is renowned for excellent results, qualified staff, state-of-the-art technology and upright attitude toward patients. Every year over 1,000 people have their surgery done in Den Eye Clinic. The clinic provides its patients with all the necessary information on their condition, diagnosis and treatment, and surgeries are video-taped.

It's also worth noting the clinics that offer the whole main range of medical specialists. One such example is City Clinic Medical Centre Bregalnitsa in Varna, where you can consult cardiologists, endocrinologists, neurologists, dermatologists and more. Special attention is paid to the children with specialists in paediatrics and obstetrics, while the image diagnostics carry out contemporary procedures such as digital X-ray and computer tomography. To save yourself the hassle of involving time and money in small operations, trust the doctors here – they can perform laser operations of varicose veins or haemorrhoid treatment with minimal invasiveness, and within the day.

To avoid any manipulation and suggestions of unnecessary treatment, get a neutral diagnostic laboratory to run your tests. One of the best, and certainly the biggest, in the country is Ramus. Apart from the standard list of tests with the latest technology, it offers specialised packages for the diagnosis of reproductive problems and rare viral and cancerous diseases. As the biggest laboratory in the country, Ramus does a lot of research for international companies and has extensive resources, such as its own specialised logistics and refrigerated system for transporting specimens.

Alpha Dental Studio is well known among Bulgarian expats. Established in 1998 by Dr Yassen Dimitrov, dental surgeon and implantologist, the studio has attracted clients from many foreign embassies and the high management of international companies. Alpha Dental Studio specialises in oral implantology and aesthetic dentistry but you can pay it a visit even if you need only a filling, a root extraction or a check up. After years of specialisation in some of the best European dental institutes, Dr Dimitrov is always ahead of the times applying cutting-age methods, equipment and materials in dental treatment. One of them is the usage of CAD/CAM technology (CEREC-by SIEMENS) for tooth scanning that allows all type of ceramic crowns and teeth to be made not by a dental technician but by a machine (5-axis robot) thus reducing the price and the time needed for the procedure.

You can certainly trust dental specialists in Bulgaria to know their business. Their offices are usually staffed with experiences personnel and the latest treatments on offer. Such is definitely the case with Doctor Iren Vlahova, who performs quality and pain-free procedures to treat various conditions with laser. You are spared the unpleasant noise and vibrations associated with cavity treatment, while the new programmes for periodontal problems aim to save the teeth and prevent extraction. Operations performed with laser are pain-free and blood-free, which gives you shorter recovery time. Doctor Vlahova's office also offers cosmetic procedures such as whitening with noninvasive technology.

Need a full team to manage your dental case? Bunaya Dental Clinic in Sofia aims to satisfy the patients' dental care needs. At the clinic you will be sure to find specialists in all fields of dentistry: dental implantology, aesthetic dentistry, whitening, periodontics, surgery, orthodontics and laser therapy. The specialists work as a team to provide complex treatment of every case, while the child dentistry department offers no-stress methods for the comfort of the little patients.

Medical care in Bulgaria is not only about keeping you healthy – there are many centres specialising in plastic and aesthetic surgery. As everywhere else in the world, however, you should find a trusted team to be sure that you wouldn't be scared to death when you see yourself in the mirror after the beautifying procedure.

Dr Anton Tonev Medical Centre is another fine place to enhance your appearance. A trusted and well-trained professional, Dr Tonev has over 25 years of plastic surgery experience and performs a wide range of beautifying procedures – from minimally invasive enhancements to comprehensive cosmetic surgery for both men and women. Another advantage is the location – Dr Anton Tonev Medical Centre has branches in Sofia and Plovdiv.

Read 4953 times Last modified on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 12:10
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