Second Opinion

The spine is a mystery…..

back pain where is your pain coming fromThe spine is a mystery. Willem Zeegers loves unraveling that mystery in a practical way and he is also passionate about solving problems from former treatments. Drs. Willem Zeegers is one of the pioneers in Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR) surgery, starting ADR already in 1989 in the Netherlands and afterwards performing ADR surgeries worldwide. He introduced the Artificial Disc Implant in almost all continents. During the period 1989-2000, in the Netherlands many surgeons from overseas visited his operating room at the Maasland Hospital in Sittard (nowadays named ORBIS). Willem Zeegers has one of the biggest experience in ADR worldwide. For Willem Zeegers applies: First Things First and Keep It Stupid Simple (KISS) A perfect diagnosis is the most important key to success of the treatment. Almost all surgical failures in Artificial Disc Replacement are due to wrong or incomplete diagnosis, superimposed by a bad choice of the implant in combination with an inexperienced surgeon. Willem Zeegers is never hunting for surgeries, again First Things First: the well-being of the patient is always his only target. Listen, listen, listen. Invite patients to speak up! He looks at the patient as a unit, he tries not to focus on the apparent cause of the pain, but he remains attentive aware of the hidden, also if it is concerning another body part. Back problems can be caused by metabolic problems, osteoporosis, cancer, intestinal disease….and many more other general pathologies, like for example borrelliosis. ADRTherefore he never relies only on reports, internet investigations, he likes to interpret the individual case by himself in combination with consultations in his worldwide spinal network. He does not stop when he does not understand the symptoms. If the patient has signs or symptoms, there is a reason for it, and many times we have to take more concern for the natural history. Many complaints will subside given time anyway. Frequently he saved patients from misdiagnosis and wrong indicated proposed interventions elsewhere.

The patient is always right. No hurry, take time for diagnosis and surgery, he never minds the time. Sometimes several hours for one consultation. There are no stupid questions. Patients can ask absolutely anything and will get their answers too. He is a strong believer of teamwork and optimal communication. Patient first, doctors and team should adapt. Frequently Willem Zeegers is consulting his spinal colleagues worldwide, to look for the least possible risks and maximal patient gain. After reviewing patient’s history and physical examination, imaging is only important in the last instance. During the last phase Willem Zeegers will review the imaging himself, he absolutely does not rely on the the radiologist reports only. Willem Zeegers always is going back to basics, to start from scratch on. Important is also cooperation with a neurologist, who has no insight in the films, to get a nonbiased neurologic diagnosis (small specialized network named I.N.O.S.) His skype conferencing internationally and multidisciplinary consultations are wellknown. He also is an I.C.T. pioneer, using voice recognition technology (Kurzweil) to produce his surgery reports for over fifteen years. Willem Zeegers remains flexible in finding the best solution, even if this requires the surgical plan to be changed intra-operatively, or changing totally the location and team of surgery worldwide. Willem Zeegers is VIP-proof. If on second thought (during the personal consultation) there is no indication for a surgical intervention, the patient has to go back home without surgery. The indication should be waterproof and Willem Zeegers has to be convinced 100% about the indication, otherwise he will not perform any surgery, patient’s travel distance is no issue in this decision. Willem Zeegers knows almost all pitfalls in ADR surgery, but ongoing complaints or new complaints can occur, fortunately mostly temporary only. Willem Zeegers has had not a single surgical infection (meticulous technique) during or after his artificial disc implantations since 1989. Worldwide specialist and ADR consultant, but also multifunctional spinal surgeon. His success as a pioneer of artificial disc replacement is mostly due to the early introduction of a skilled anterior retroperitoneal approach to the spine during his training period as orthopedic consultant in the early eighties. Later on, this was important for swift, prosthetic work. A vascular surgeon is always standby, but in 90% of the cases Willem Zeegers performs the whole procedure from beginning to the end by himself, including subcutaneous skin incision closure. Concerning the artificial disc implants, Willem Zeegers is aware of the economic entanglements between some prosthetic implant companies, clinics and surgeons. He knows that most patients are unaware of this situation. Most patients are completely dependent on their surgeons and insurance companies. Nowadays there are many artificial disc designs around the world, and Willem Zeegers is using only the best implant, if possible more or less custom made, evolved from the first generation. By experience he never uses an artificial disc with a so called keel. All our implants are elegant designed and don’t damage the bone structure. For even more safety there is electro-physiological monitoring of the nerve roots during the surgery. Willem Zeegers has no financial relations to implant sellers, although he was an experienced consultant for many companies for years. Already long time ago Willem Zeegers experienced by himself that the public health care system mostly is a bureaucratic waste of money. Bad training, bad decisions, bad communications, bad cooperation. He is convinced that the top management people at the insurance systems don’t care about patients, in contradiction to their advertising slogans. The insurance companies are mostly busy with savings, penny wise, pound foolish, making stupid low-priced rules for doctors and patients on one hand, and wasting a lot of money on the other side. Zeegers does not deal with the insurance companies directly, until now that was always a waste of time: nowadays he only deals with the patients themselves. Clinical studies are unethical in this field, as there is literature, combined experience and common sense which guides good practice.

Willem Zeegers did surgeries in all cultures: he respects other cultures and languages. Willem Zeegers is expecting a fully open mind of his patients too. During his travelling to perform worldwide surgeries he experienced that all patients have the same desires and expectations, totally independent of culture, color or language. They all want the same and have the same goal. Therefore respect. Functioning as a spine consultant, religion is a non-issue for him. Such a positive attitude is important, both in patient expectations, cooperation and doctors capacities.

If necessary, translation with an interpreter will be organized. Zeegers himself is speaking English, Dutch, German, French and he understands a big part of Italian and Spanish languages. In private life he is a passionate photographer and solo sailor with a two mast yacht, requiring accuracy. Willem Zeegers is a doctor and a spine patient himself, at the same time. Be free to ask for un unbiased reliable second opinion via email.

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