Greetings from Miami Florida!
Greetings from Miami Florida!
May 5,, 2008 07:00

Actually, I'm on the plane from LAX to Miami now. This SAS is going to be very different and special for me. While this is my 6th Spine Arthroplasty Society congress, this is the first one that my wife, Diane, will attend with me. Fortunately, in the years past, she's not been too interested in Spine. While she has traveled with me to several conferences, she's never attended the sessions before. Unfortunately, she has this new interest in spine, because she's now a spine patient. Last year on May 5th, I was in Berlin for SAS-7, playing tennis with Charite' patient number 1 (23 years post-op!) For Diane, May 5th 2007 was the start of her spinal oddessy... it was the day that she came home from work for the first time, thinking that she had arthritis in her hips. The weeks to come revealed severe degeneration and a massive disc protrusion at L5-S1. In July, She's sleeping comfortably next to me, now 5.5 weeks post-op from her 2nd spine surgery in the last year... 2-level ProDisc with vertebroplasty. This is an interesting twist of fate. Diane cared for me during my years of disability. Read about her "Caring For a Loved One in Pain" presentation in 2005. we've done a role reversal in the last year, but I admit... she's a better spine patient, AND she's a better caregiver too!

The flight over was VERY interesting. I sat next to a rep from Applied Spine. They have a very interesting new dynamic posterior stabilization device called stabilimax (currently in clinical trial.) This was developed by Manohar Panjabi, one of the icons of biomechanics. I've seen him present this device before and it looks very promising.

Activities will start today with a patient conference this evening. We are looking forward to watching Rich Longland's (ADR support) first patient conference. He spoke at my patient conference in NY in 2005.

Tomorrow morning brings a live surgery broadcast and the start of what looks like another great conference. I'll do my best to blog as much of it as I can. It's always a challenge to try to keep up with the conference activities, present client cases, conduct the business I need to discuss, sleep a little, and create some time to write.... but here we go... check back here over the days to come. I'll put the last update date and time on the GPN banner page and also list the updates above, to make your reviewing more efficient. I hope you find the information useful. Please comment on the SAS thread on iSpine.


Mark Mintzer

Technology Disclaimer
The devices, procedures, etc... discussed on this site are in various stages of development. While some have been proven safe and efficacious, are FDA approved and widely available; others may be in a wide range of developmental stages. Some are proven and are just waiting for FDA approval of the manufacturing process, which is expected very soon. Some are exciting ideas that may prove to be very bad ideas; possibly even harmful disasters. Some represent brilliant ideas that may ultimately become life-saving products while others will never make it to the marketplace. Even for the great products, development / testing / approval process may take years or even decades. There is no guarantee that any information presented here is correct. Items discussed here may never be available to the patient community. Medical decisions should not be made based on information found here.
Day 0 - Monday, May 5, 2008

05:00 PM - Patient Seminar - not a great start to the trip. We'd pre-registered a week ago and had gone to great effort and expense to get there, but we were not allowed to attend the seminar.

08:00 PM - We are attending a Vendor dinner at an incredible Brazillian steakhouse called Texas de Brazil. Dr. Zeegers is serious in the office, but he's a blast to hang out with in a social setting. Also there was Dr. Jochen Feil, also from Germany. I first met Dr. Feil at SAS in Montreal 2 years ago. He's got over 2,000 skydives and I have over 850. (Although I'm not a jumper since my car accident in 1997.) He's done ADR surgery on several professional skydivers. Read about one here. It was great to talk about skydiving again... that really gets me going. (Diane has about 20 skydives too!)

There was plenty of spine discussed too. We got to sit with Dr. Rolando Garcia, a prominent ADR surgeon from aventura, Florida. In addition to being a top ADR surgeon, Dr. Garcia is an ADR history buff. I've enjoyed meeting him at SAS and NASS for the past 5 years. He's got some amazing stories about the early days of ADR... and when I say early... I mean back to the 1950's. It's great to spend some time with Dr. Scott Leary again too. Although he doesn't have decades of experience behind him, he did his spine fellowship with Dr. Regan and is now in practice with Dr. Frank Coufal at La Jolla Neurosurgical associates. What a great evening and a great way to start the conference week.



Day 1 - Tuesday, May 6, 2008

09:30 - Taped Live Surgeries: The morning session started with some taped live surgeries. Most impressive was Dr. Michael Janssen's session on Tips and Techniques. The presentation and discussion about how to avoid many potential pitfalls of lumbar and cervical spine surgery was like a graphic lession in why YOUR surgery should be performed by someone with a great deal of experience with the procedure you are having. It takes more than just a few procedures... or a few dozen procedures before you start to develop this kind of experience. Having done hundreds or thousands of other types of surgeries does not make you an expert in something similar.

11:30 - Diane gets to thank Thierry Marnay: We had an amazingly warm moment this morning as we caught up with Thierry Marnay, the inventor of the ProDisc. He's used to seeing me at the conferences and was very pleasant as always. When Diane thanked him for inventing the ProDisc and told him that she was less than 6 weeks post-op, he said, "You've got 2 ProDiscs?" He was so very happy to hear our good news... he stepped forward and gave Diane the warmest hug. We talked for a long time about so many things... It was such a pleasure to see him enjoying this so much. I experience a small taste of this with my work, but for him, the gratification that he receives from moments like these must be enormous. This occurred in the back of the main hall and the moderator of the next session was clearly perterbed with us, because he was trying to get the next session started and Dr. Marnay clearly wanted to keep talking... and the next session was his!

Afternoon sessions - Indications, Lumbar and Cervical: The afternoon started with the debate format. These are often light and entertaining. The audience will vote on a question, like "Is there sufficient biomechanical evidence that Artificial Disc Replacement prevents adjacent level disease." Then, 2 surgeons will debate pro and con. Often, a surgeon is clearly debating a position that he does not embrace. The debaters are usually good friends and will go to great lengths to roast their buddies. Sometimes it's quite pointed and I've seen many of these debates cross the line. These were entertaining as usual. The lightest moment occured when Pimenta (Brazil) debated LeHuec (France) and as the debate came to a close, a video from the France vs. Brazil world cup final, when Zidane drew a red card (and IMHO lost the final for France) when he headbutted Materazzi... but with Pimenta and LeHuec heads pasted into the video like on a jib-jab cartoon... too funny.

Some of the paper presentations in the afternoon MIS session that I found interesting were:

#3 A Randomized Trial of Balloon Kyphoplasty and Nonsurgical Care for Patients with Acute Vertebral Compression Fractures: One Year Results. I'm used to seeing a lot of presentations with a lot of numbers that are not 'statistically significant' and few numbers that are. Even though this was a comparison of treatment vs. no treatment, it is for a common condition that all too often gets no treatment. The numbers showed a remarkable difference in all relevant categories. "Conclusion .... woops... sorry to do this piecemeal... but it's been a long, hard week... Diane, Taffy and I are off to the beach! More later...

Day 2 - Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Day 3 - Thursday, May 8, 2008


Day 4 - Friday, May 9, 2008


Please comment on the SAS blog on this iSpine thread!