The Institute for Orthopaedic Enlightenment

OrthoFlash Full Citation - September 10, 2004



Mark Mintzer
Global Patient Network
8793 Nightingale Ave.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
(714) 963-6554, (714) 593-8668 fax

World’s most experienced Artificial Disc Replacement Surgeon to address an international symposium for spine patients.

Fountain Valley, CA – September 10, 2004 – On Saturday, September 26th, Dr. Willem Zeegers will have traveled from Munich, Germany to Southern California, to deliver a special seminar for spine patients from all over North America, who want to learn more about artificial disc replacement surgery, a cutting edge treatment for many common spinal conditions that is not yet widely available in the U.S.

Artificial disc replacement is one of the newest technologies to treat common back problems, widely viewed as a better alternative to spinal fusion for many back pain sufferers. In the U.S, a Medical Advisory Committee at the FDA voted unanimously in June to approve the SB Charite’ III prosthesis, although the device has been widely available in Europe for more than a decade.

Dr. Zeegers is one of the early pioneers to use the SB Charite' III artificial discs, and is the most experienced disc replacement surgeon in the world. Since 1989, he has performed over 1,100 implantations. Dr. Zeegers practices at the AlphaKlinik in Munich, Germany, a leading medical clinic that specializes in innovative techniques to treat spine, knee, and shoulder problems.

This is the fourth patient seminar with a pioneering spine surgeon, to be hosted by Global Patient Network. Mark Mintzer, president of GPN is also the founder of a very active internet community where patients share research and provide support for one another as they work to find solutions to treat their back pain. Now many of these patients are helping others learn about their options.

“This seminar will be an opportunity for patients who are evaluating artificial disc replacement to meet with others who’ve had the surgery," said Mintzer. “At our last symposium, in June, we set the world record for most ADR patients in one place. I expect to have even more this time, and I hope to have more types of discs, more clinics and more surgeons represented. Spine patients are traveling from Canada, Mexico City, Florida, Vermont, Washington, Utah, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and from all over California to hear Dr. Zeegers' talk and to participate in the open question and answer session that will follow."

The venue for the symposium is Los Caballeros Sports Village in Fountain Valley, Ca. Before the seminar, there will be a ‘reunion’ of Dr. Zeegers’ patients for some basketball, tennis, swimming and maybe even some indoor soccer. All attendees are invited to use the health club’s facilities. After the seminar, all attendees are invited to Mintzer’s house for a backyard barbeque.

A back pain sufferer himself, Mintzer endured two failed spine surgeries before traveling to Munich, Germany where in September of 2002, Dr. Zeegers implanted 2 SB Charite’ III artificial discs. "Six weeks after my surgery, I was completely off pain meds. This was after 2 years of being a shut-in and 3 straight years on opiates. I was afraid that I’d wind up with a morphine pump… what I got instead was a normal life! Just a few months after surgery, I was playing tennis, SCUBA diving, and playing soccer,” Mintzer said.

As the online community grew and grew, Mintzer found himself spending most of his time helping spine patients from all over the world. In January, he founded Global Patient Network and is now working full time to help spine patients find solutions. “People in the internet community helped me for 2 years as I lived through my personal hell. Now I help them!”

“I function as a patient advocate, helping spine patients to understand what their options are and which issues are relevant,” Mintzer said. “I can assist in getting overseas opinions, streamlining the process for the patients AND for the doctors.

Dr. Zeegers said, "I've worked with Mark Mintzer as both a patient and as a colleague. The online patient profile that Global Patient Network has developed is an excellent tool that saves me time and allows me to provide much better service to international patients. Patients assisted by GPN come to me with a clearer view of what to expect, both pre-op and post-op. Mark is able to help my patients from a very unique perspective."

For more information about Global Patient Network or this seminar, contact Mr. Mintzer via email at

(Dr. Zeegers, Mr. Mintzer and many patients will be available for interviews at the luncheon.)