Craig’s Journey with 2-Level Artificial Disc Replacement in Germany - SkyGen

Craig’s Journey with 2-Level Artificial Disc Replacement in Germany

Craig called SkyGen in August 2016. He was a 32-year-old mechanic based in Melbourne, Australia. He had been suffering with Lumbar (L4/L5 and L5/S1) Degenerative Disc Disease for 10 years. He visited 5 of the most reputable spine specialists in the country, who all told him that nothing could be done due to his young age. Their solution was a dual level fusion, but they wouldn’t offer this until he was much older or simply couldn’t walk anymore.

We coordinated for Craig to receive an assessment by our senior neurosurgeons at the ONZ Centre in Germany. He received the good news that he was a suitable candidate for 2-level M6 Disc Replacement. Of the three available German Spine Specialists, his surgeon was Dr. Thomas Bierstedt.

This motion-preserving solution would be performed via the anterior route (underneath his belly button) to gain direct access to the damaged spinal discs through lower abdomen, without having to cut through important muscles and supportive tissues in his back.

His prognosis was that after receiving the M6 disc at the two damaged spinal levels, he could return to an active lifestyle doing everything he loved. This included working as a mechanic, windsurfing and dirt bike riding. The natural movement provided by the M6 disc would also best mitigate any chance of “adjacent segment disease”, which is a huge risk for any patient receiving a spinal fusion.Within 6 weeks he was on his way to Germany for his dual level artificial disc replacement surgery.

Craig sent us this video of his trip and ongoing recovery


SkyGen coordinated his entire journey from start to finish, and his wife and mother joined him as “support buddies”.

Spinal Rehabilitation at MEDICOS Centre


As with all our spinal patients who travel to Germany, Craig spent his first week in hospital, and his second week under medical supervision at the MEDICOS Rehab centre.

This is the largest rehabilitation centre in Europe, visited by elite football teams and other athletes. It’s been proven that patients who receive intensive post-surgical rehabilitation have the best chance for a speedy and full recovery.

It is only through the closest collaboration between the ONZ Spine Surgeons and the MEDICOS Rehab Specialists that such a thorough program can exist. Craig and his family stayed at the Courtyard Marriot right next door.

An example of Craig’s Daily Rehabilitation (1 Week)

9:30 – Lymphatic Manual Drainage
10:00 – Physiotherapy
10:30 – Medical Training Therapy
12:20 – Massage
13:30 – Lunch
14:30 – Electrotherapy
15:10 – Wound Management
15:30 – Ergo Therapy
16:00 – Chief Physician Visit

Note: This comprehensive approach to rehab is a stark contrast to what’s offered by Australian and New Zealand spine surgeons. In many cases, local patients will do some in-hospital physio, and then told to go home and visit their local physio.

Final Check-Up with Spine Surgeon Dr. Thomas Bierstedt


Around 11 days after his surgery, Craig met with his surgeon again to discuss his recovery. This was a perfect opportunity for him to ask any questions or talk about getting back to “normal life” at home. As you can see, our ONZ Spine Surgeons are very friendly and approachable, and we can always contact them regarding our patients. They are always happy to assist.

Before & After Photos and X-Rays

Artificial Disc Replacement in Germany (SkyGen & Dr. Thomas Bierstedt)
Craig has generously made himself available to talk with any new SkyGen patients who’ve been recommended spine surgery in Germany. We have new happy patients returning from Germany every week, and many are happy to give some of their time as a “reference” to speak with new patients. We aim to put new patients in touch with someone around the same age, with a similar lifestyle, who’s already had the same surgery that’s been recommended for them.

Have you received a diagnosis or been recommended for spinal surgery?

Contact SkyGen today with any questions, and our team are happy to assist you. So far we’ve helped patients travel from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Singapore and South Africa to Germany for motion-preserving spine surgery. We are experts at coordinating every little detail of the medical travel journey from start to finish.

*Please read: Although the information provided on this page may describe a particular patient experience and/or outcome, readers must understand that each patient presents with a unique medical history and may be recommended a different treatment/surgery by their surgeon to that described above. Individual results may vary between surgery centre/hospital, surgeon, surgery type and patient. Although SkyGen agrees to share all updates from patients at their request, SkyGen does not endorse any physical activities attempted by patients following surgery which do not follow the explicit instructions provided by their surgeon. SkyGen encourages all patients to discuss the risks of such activities with medical professionals before attempting these themselves.

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Written by SkyGen Public Relations

This content is copyright and property of SkyGen Spinal & Orthopaedic. It was written to educate our patients in making informed decisions regarding their own healthcare. SkyGen is Australia's largest international collaboration between world class regenerative medicine clinics and orthopaedic hospitals.