Patient Stories

My 3-Level Spine Surgery in Germany (Ronn’s Story)


Ronn is a 46 year old extreme endurance athlete from Alice Springs in Central Australia. At 192cm he is taller than most, and enjoys competitive mountain biking and road cycling.

He first contacted us after one of his close friends (an Alice Springs school teacher and avid horse rider) returned from Germany after a 1-level M6 disc replacement in her lower back.

He had lower back pain, and referred nerve pain down both buttocks into his legs, with occasional numbness and loss of motor control in his feet. Ronn has damage and degeneration in the bottom 3 levels of his lumbar spine, and when his symptoms returned after two separate discectomy surgeries (2014 and 2016) he decided something had to be done. His official diagnosis from our German Spine Specialists was Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) at L3/4, L4/5 and L5/S1. With Anterolisthesis at L5/S1.

After an assessment of Ronn’s case, our surgeons advised the following treatment plan:

  1. Total discectomy by anterior surgical approach and M6-L Disc replacement at L3/4 and L4/5.
  2. Total discectomy, re-alignment and insertion of intervertebral cage at L5/S1.
  3. Insertion of Anterior Cage (ALIF) with Posterior fixation by pedicle screws and rods by minimally invasive technique with least soft tissue trauma (in terms of 360-degree Fusion (L5/S1)

Ronn travelled to Germany for his hybrid surgery in early April, 2017

Ronn wanted to share his experience with others, and he sent us the following letter 6 months after his spine surgery

My Story about Spine Surgery in Germany

Being a highly fit active person who loves life and then being put on the rubbish heap it’s nice to find people who care and put themselves in a position where they lead the field.

To give you an idea, before injury I cycled 250km a week as a base cycling regime and did a box fit class twice a week. If I was training for a cycling event this regime would double.

I love life and always want to get the most out of it.

Unfortunately due to a work incident this all changed. With the active help of work cover insurance mucking around making me see one specialist to another and doctors over a 9-month period my simple injury escalated while my capacity both physically and mentally diminished.

To give you simple terms my L3/L4 and L4/L5 discs were herniated and my L5 vertebrae was broken and sliding off the sacrum by 10mm. By November last year when my L5 had broken and sliding off the sacrum it gave work cover the excuse they needed. They said my condition has now touched but not affected my previous discectomy from 2014 at L5/S1 and that gives them the right to refuse surgery to fix me due to touching a pre-existing condition.

As you can imagine this gave me and my wife who was caring for me lots of stress. My surgery options in Australia would have left me partially disabled and in our current financial position unaffordable with guaranteed future surgeries. With this stress and the huge amount of drugs I was taking to try and dull the pain does not do the mental health well. I got into a dark place where I was preparing everything at home to exit this world. It’s what happens when you are obsessive compulsive (OCD), BUT the benefits of being OCD is that you keep searching for a solution. I kept researching on Dr Google and kept coming back to Germany being at the forefront of Spinal surgery for 40+years. This gets me to Spine Connection.

Contacting Spine Connection with Jake Lemon and getting the consultation from Germany was the most uplifting, promising experience that I have had throughout what had been a year of disappointing experiences in Australia. Thanks Jake!

Leaving home on a long haul of 24 hours flying from home in Australia to Germany was frightening and tough. My first business class flight, expensive but I could not sit and had to lay.

Being greeted in Düsseldorf by a chauffeur was amazing. Between Spine Connection and their partners ONZ in Germany the service and schedules are what you would expect when you put German in a sentence.

The whole process from the 4-hour surgery, 10 day hospital stay and 15 day rehab stay was just incredible and amazing, professional, fun and a reassuring process that made sure that I was comfortable in learning how to walk and use my body again. The staff in all aspects of every process were great.

Now with two artificial discs and one 360-degree fusion outlook on life is getting better every day. Today I’m now at the 6-month point after surgery and the past 10 weeks have been the best. My muscles are starting to remember what they need to do and are growing again. My posture is amazing and I feel great. Yes it has taken longer than I expected to get to where I am now but in comparison to where I was for how long I don’t care that it has taken determination, persistence and for filling self made schedules for my rehab process. You get out of it only what you put in.

I am now at a point after 18 months where I can go back to work, I’m currently actively seeking a new career. I’m 45 years old and have a new life which was thanks to the great hands of Dr. Bierstedt but also thanks to Spine Connection, Jake Lemon and all the staff, friends, family, acquaintances that either assisted, helped or gave support.

I’ve got to say though having a great supportive partner like I did is something I’m very grateful for. We now have a new future and a productive one.

I left Australia with an option of being only a Kia or Hyundai, but I came back as a Mercedes or BMW.

Regards Ronn Slusser

*Please read: Every patient is unique and responds to medical treatment differently. Factors influencing outcome from spine treatment and surgery can include overall patient health, underlying medical conditions, degree and duration of existing spine/nerve damage, surgeon experience, technology and surgical techniques used, post-op rehabilitation protocol, and patient diligence in continuing rehab once returning home. We encourage patients to return to a healthy and active lifestyle, and the introduction of new physical activities should be discussed with medical professionals during the recovery phase.
Spine Connection [PR]
Written by Spine Connection [PR]

This content is copyright and property of Spine Connection, the first medical travel organisation for patients with spine damage. Our mission is to provide faster, more affordable and superior spine treatment for patients living anywhere in the world.

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