German Disc Replacement: Sixty-one International Patients at Record-setting Reunion
On 7 June 2015 SkyGen Australia proudly announced our new partnership with the ONZ Centre in Dusseldorf, Germany. This partnership created the perfect opportunity to make world-leading motion-preserving spine surgery such as Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR) or Total Facet Replacement available to our Australian and New Zealand patients.
Many of these patients have been recommended spinal fusion as the ‘Gold Standard’ to fix their lower back or neck condition, and this idea of restricting their movement and elevating the chance of “adjacent segment disease” has them looking for other options.
The neurosurgeon spine specialists in Germany each perform 350-400 surgeries every year, and with over half of those being ADR procedures using the latest generation of M6 & ESP Disc implant. To put it simply, they are at the forefront of this specialised procedure.
“A fusion is an irreversible interference of the biomechanics of the spine. Who would accept a fusion of the knee or hip joint in the case of osteoarthritis?”
While our first patients have been confirmed and undergone spine surgery in Germany (one even being a former Intensive Care Nurse from NZ), this article focuses on a record-setting reunion of former Canadian patients which took place earlier this year in Manitoba, Canada.
Sixty-one former patients attended, making this the largest setting of post-ADR patients ever assembled. These patients are among the 500+ patients from Canada and the USA that had previously traveled to Germany for motion-preserving M6 Disc ADR surgery with ONZ specialists Dr. Thomas Bierstedt and Dr. Bernd Illerhaus.
Head of ONZ International patient department, Malte Petersen, understands how unique it is for a medical team to put itself in a vulnerable position by having previous patients gather together in the same room. “Usually hospitals and doctors fear their relation to the patients, especially a personal relation.” Petersen commented that the transparency in medicine was missing. He said that surgeons don’t often openly present their results and patients are usually never given the opportunity to speak with other patients who went through similar experiences.
On the night, various patients had the opportunity to share their personal stories.
Ryan Dueck broke his neck playing football in February, 2009. He said he lived with unbearable pain and was slowly loosing the ability to hold up his head. No option was available for him in Canada, so he went to Germany for spine surgery om 2013, including hybrid surgery with cervical M6-C ADR replacement. He calls the surgery a life-saving miracle, and says not a day has gone by where he regretted his decision. Dueck said that meeting sixty other former patients was one of his best life experiences, and has founded a support group for other Canadians facing day to day life with traumatic cervical spine damage.
Some patients are worried that they will never be able to enjoy an active lifestyle again after M6 ADR surgery, however this isn’t the case. “There are no restrictions as far as the spinal implants are concerned. We have patients who have returned back to very active lifestyles: farming, horse back riding, competitive sports and pilots to name a few.” said Petersen. He continued, “The idea of fusion is to eliminate the entire level from functioning: 2 vertebrae and intervertebral motion. Principally, motion preserving solutions are superior. The chances of complete pain alleviation and a non-restricted, fully active lifestyle is significantly higher than with fusion.”
“The spine is a mobile organ. In the case of disc disease, the function causes pain. Disc replacement has been developed in order to only repair the component that is ill: the disc and it’s functions. This will restore disc height, preserve motion, regain shock absorption, and alleviate pain.”
Please Note: All Australian and New Zealand patients considering motion-preserving surgery with the German Spine Specialists are welcome to speak to local SkyGen patients who have undergone the surgery before. Our medical travel experts can coordinate a remote medical assessment and present you your surgical recommendation within 5 working days. You’re even invited to discuss this with your Surgeon via a telephone call. The ONZ Centre in Germany believes in the strongest personal relationship between surgery provider (ONZ), medical travel facilitator (SkyGen) and you, the patient. All of your detailed medical records from before, during and after your overseas surgery will be stored on our SkyVault Patient Records system to ensure the highest level of ongoing care from your doctor once you return home.
*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.