Thursday, November 4, 2010

My M6-L Surgery With Mr. Boeree.

Greetings everyone!

I will try and provide all the details that I can. If I missed anything, please feel free to ask! For a discussion, read the post on the Spine Patient Society thread!

Preparations and Arrival
Paperwork with the clinic was a breeze. After I got approval from my insurance company, which covered 100%, I booked my ticket with Continental Airlines. I booked an economy seat on the way over and a first class seat on the way back. I made sure that I booked a return flight with the new flatbed seats. I'm staying in a Holiday Inn that's 3 minutes away from the Hospital. I highly recommend this hotel! The food is fantastic and the rooms are efficient. Plus, it's probably the best value near the hospital. It's very business oriented too.

I arrived in London Heathrow with two family members. We had 6 big bags and decided to take the train to Eastleigh. BAD IDEA. Take a taxi or hire someone! Not only will it be a shorter ride, but you won't be switching buses and trains with 6 bags and a bad back.

We arrived in the hotel, had lunch, took a quick nap, and headed to the hospital for some pre-op assessments.

The Nuffield Wessex Hospital isn't ostentatious at all. It's very humble and to-the-point. Eastleigh, the town, isn't the most exciting town in the world, but that's not why I'm here!

I met with an assessment specialist first. They ran a series of tests, including bloodwork and EKG's. After that, I met with Mr. Boeree. He has a very kind presence to him and i'm very pleased with the the topics we covered. A few important ones:

-He stressed that he is not operating for a cure, but instead an improvement in symptoms.
-In the case of a revision surgery, fusion is the only option.
-He does do some work during the operation that would make a revision surgery easier.
-I can stay longer than 5 days if I need to, free of charge.
-The M6 has worked wonders!
-He said my L5 and the Sacrum are partially fused in the transverse processes. This could explain why my L4/L5 is degenerative, given that it took all the load that was supposed to be distributed between two discs. He also explained how i have a pretty nasty annular tear in my disc.

He also showed me the M6:

I was given a few guidebooks and guidelines on how to prepare for my surgery. I was allowed to have water up until 2 hours before the surgery. They recommended that I have as much water as possible. They also said I should bring swimming trunks and comfortable sweat pants. Fortunately, I bought plenty of plain hanes shirts and cotton sweat pants.

The Operation
I arrived at 7:00AM and the operation started at 10:00AM. The slight delay was due to some X-rays that needed to be done given that the ones I brought couldn't be opened. No biggie!

I met the anesthesiologist, who by the way, was very clear and thorough on his tests. I walked over to the operating room and they put me to sleep. I asked them if they could take pictures with my camera, and they did! Here is a pic of my operation:

I woke up in the recovery room, but I can't remember anything from it. Then they took me to my room with my family waiting for me. I had a huge smile in my face.. I was very happy!

I immediately fell asleep again and kept waking up randomly probably due to all the checks that they did on me. If there's something I wanted to say about the staff, it would be: WOW. They are thorough on their checkups and they couldn't be nicer!

Pain was minimal and increased as the anesthetics wore off. I had a morphine pump that I could control, but I barely used it. Pain was very manageable!

They gave me a sandwich to eat last night and then I fell asleep.

This morning the doctor and the physio came to visit me. Mr. Boeree said he found a severely damaged disc inside, with a very complicated annular tear alongside the back of the disc. He also said there were no complications and the surgery went beautifully. I managed to stand up and walk around the physio with no pain at all! This is me walking:

I managed to take a longer walk but i'm getting very lightheaded. It's also a lot more exhaustive that it seems. The moment I arrive in the bed again I feel like falling asleep.

Everything is looking great so far!


  1. Fantastic Mike!! It's great to see the pics - and it definitely brings back memories (although I hated those socks^^)

    Wishing you the best for a speedy recovery and back to life!!

    - Fellow M6-er Tyler

  2. Well no turning back now. I thought it was interesting the Doctor said, "He is not operating for a cure, but instead an improvement in symptoms." Your symptoms would have improved over time. The Doctor was right, like I stated before you do have a annular tear in the back of you disc. These tears do heal over time and you would have returned to normal functioning activities, if you did physical therapy. The l4/l5 disc is taking more of a load, becuase you lumbar doesn't have to correct curvature. It will be interesting to see how long the disc above and below will last, with a prosthetic disc. Usually with fusion the disc above or below will only last ten years and the patient has to have another operation.

  3. I tried therapy for 2 long years...

    And no they wouldn't have improved over time due to my L5 and sacrum fusing through the transverse processes (this happened naturally). This made the L4/L5 disc take ALL the load. And not only was the L4/L5 smaller than normal, but it had to do the work of 2 discs. It wasn't going to heal. Knowing this, I made an informed decision.

  4. Hi Mike,
    Glad to hear that you are successfully on the other side of surgery.

    From someone who has also had to claw back from a debilitating affliction at a young age I'm glad to tell you that your 24 year old body is going to respond and adapt to a prosthesis far better than a 40 or 50 year body - fact (your mindset is also going to influence this).

    The grain of information to be gleened from the above poster is that you will now have to be SMART about the decisons that you make in your lifestyle and recuperation (as if you didn't already know this - right) - as what the poster is saying is that people who suffer from these injuries do so because of a biomechanical or procedural flaw - which when they feel better from surgical intervention, are statistically likely to repeat. another fact.

    So padawan, if you haven't already done this (and having followed your posts for a number of months now you seen like a smart guy) get the physio's and Occupational Therapists to teach you how to sit, bend, pick things up with R.E.S.P.E.C.T to your back. Also get some good advice and build a regimen around strenthening your core muscles (a couple of sessions with an accredited yoga or pilates teacher should acquaint your with a) how poor your current core muscular strength and control is, and b) how important this is to the overall longevity of your prosthesis in relation to the surrounding disks).

    Regrettably your choice of becoming a Skiing Moguls champion or a Mixed Martial Arts champion are no longer with you - but the cotton wool alluded to by the above poster is not the forgone conclusion either.

    On that note, to the above poster, please don't confuse spinal fusion with ADR. Yes you are correct in saying that fusion distributes load to adjoining disks and does stress them (and degrade them over time), but this ADR both articulates and accepts load energy (shock absorbs), which fusion does not - so be fair to the kid...... he's had a rough trot.


  5. Great post GG!

    I've realized the kind of life I have ahead of me.. Sure it will have its boundaries and limits, but they are less than those I had before the surgery. With the kind of annular tear I had, I was bound to have continuous degeneration and a worsening of the protrusion. Now, all I have to worry about is taking care of my new baby. It's not like i'm going skydiving or bungee jumping anytime soon, but I will surely take a nice jog every once in a while.. and most importantly, sit down for extended periods. I haven't been able to do my job due to this limitation, and now i'm free to express my creativity and start my dream business.

    I've asked the physio for plenty of guidelines and advice.. They will provide me all the details on the recommended course to take from here.. For instance, they recommend mostly hydro-therapy for the first 6 weeks, and then I can move 'back to land'... which will probably involve pilates or something similar that involves core-strengthening.

    All I know is my life has changed.. and health is now my #1 priority.

    Good luck to you all! I will post more details as they come in.

  6. Congratulations, Mike! It's great to see how much progress you have made.

    I wish you a complete recovery.

  7. Hey Mike,

    Congratulations on your successful surgery. I have DDD in L4/L5 and L5/S1. Pain getting worse pretty much every day. I have been looking at the M6-L for many months and am very interested in hearing how things work out for you.

    Are you ever permitted to run again? Or is that not recommended?

    Also, have the doctors told you how strong the "fusion" is supposed to be between the device and the vertebral surface? How long does it take for the vertebrae to properly fuse with the new disc? Do you know if there have been any reported cases of the M6-L dislodging or anything like that? I have led a very active athletic life and sort of dream of being able to run around with my little kids again.

    Thanks in advance - and good luck. I hope that you eventually feel like nothing ever happened to your back.

    All the best,


  8. Hi Chris. All these questions were answered by Mr. Boeree. I will try and answer them for you too!

    -Yes he said I will be able to do anything I please as long as it is not extreme, like bungee jumping, trampolines, etc. Running should be a piece of cake!

    -Given the above response, i'm assuming the fusion to the vertebral surfaces should be really strong in order to support this.

    -3 months is the amount of time that is recommended before you do any real sports like golfing, tennis, etc.

    -Reported cases of disloges or anything like that? I asked him about the risk of this happening, he said the risk does exist but it is so small that it is negligible. He said the success rates of his surgeries go as follows:

    There is an 85-95% improvement in symptoms in 85-95% of patients. Some improve 100%.

    If you have ANY questions, don't hesitate to ask!

  9. Mike, I was wondering if and when there will be a clinical trial or available M6 - L doctor or facility in the US.

  10. The M6-C will be the first available trial in the US, and it still has a few months to go before it is started. There are rumors that the Texas Back Institute will hold this trial.

    As for the M6-L, it still has a long way to go before a trial is started in the US.

  11. good luck mike. youth and a positive attitude are in your favor. it sounds like you had L4-5 problem, solved by the M6. But I didn't understand your L5-S1 "autofuse" solution. Can you say more about this?

  12. The L5-S1 thing was something Mr. Boeree diagnosed that I didn't know about. Apparently, the transverse process of my L5 vertebra is partially fused with the sacrum, and so my L5/S1 disc is underdeveloped. It's not causing any problems other than putting all the load on my L4/L5 disc. Not much to it, just an explanation as to why I might've had those problems.

  13. How are you feeling Mike? Can you walk around now a few days after the surgery? When do you leave the hospital?

    I hope all is well.



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  15. Thanks for the awesome write up. I have been following your procedures on and off since you posted them on reddit a year or so ago. Looks good!

  16. Thanks for following Andrew! So far doing pretty well. Are you having any problems yourself?

  17. Hi Mike, I'm in for surgery this Friday. Only one question, would you do it again?

  18. Do you have any kind of pain right now?