Crooked Wings still learn to fly
Dr Per Trobisch – Simmerath, Germany
Eifelklinik St. Brigida
Email address : firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel.: (02473) 89-2325 / -2326
Fax: (02473) 89-2440
This page is all about having Vertebral Body Tethering (VBT) or Anterior Scoliosis Correction (ASC) with Dr Per Trobisch
(Dr T) in Simmerath, Germany. Dr T performs APIfix, ASC (VBT) & Fusion surgery for patients, both mature and pediatric.
Dr T is amazing with his rapid responses to his patients, answering their queries and giving them the comfort that they need as they progress with their journey. Dr T accepts patients from across the world (excluding the US), for those reading this from the US it would be advantageous to speak with Dr Betz & his team from Spine & Scoliosis in New York or Shriners in Philadelphia, USA.
What procedures are performed at Simmerath?
Does Dr T require a pre-op visit?
If travelling from overseas Dr T will accept information & X-rays via email, so the pre-op can be just before the surgery.
At the pre-op they require height, weight and general information (take your height & weight with you as they dont seem to have facilities for such things due to it being an adult hospital). You will also meet with the anaesthetist and nurses.
Estimate approximately 3 hours for the full pre-op, this included X-rays.
What are Dr T's parameters for surgery?
Currently we are not aware of any maximum parameters for Dr T, he is performing VBT on a double curve in March of a young girl of 15, who's double curves are in the high 90's.
How many VBT surgeries have been performed there ?
At the time of writing (Dec 2018), and to the best of our knowledge, Dr T has performed 100+ VBT surgeries. He performs a maximum of two per week, and accepts patients worldwide.
What is the cost of surgery ?
The costs are €35k (Euros) single tether and €47k for a double, this is normally fully inclusive except for food for the caregiver.
When does payment need to occur before surgery?
Payment is due in full 3 weeks prior to surgery.
Where is the clinic in Simmerath, Germany?
The clinic is Eifelklinik St. Brigida Spine Surgery Clinic, at Simmerath in Germany.
How do I get there ?
If you are travelling from the UK:
By Car - 3 ½ hours from Calais with no Toll charges.
By Bus - National Express Coach direct to Aachen via London and Ferry (all inclusive)
By Train – Euro Star from St Pancreas to Brussels, then get the connecting train to Aachen, then at Aachen (right outside the train station is the bus stop), take bus SB63 to Simmerath there is one every hour. It takes 50 minutes.
By Plane - Flying into Dusseldorf Airport and then either take the train; SkyTrain to Aachen or drive (1.5 hours). Tickets for the train can be purchased at the train station, however, advance tickets bought do incur an additional charge. Once at Aachen, take the bus to Simmerath – catch from outside Aachen HBF train station No: SB63 - 5.30 euros for an adult and 2.80 for a child. It takes about an hour from Aachen to Simmerath.
Where to stay in Simmerath?
The Kragemann Hotel - https://www.kragemann.de/ is only a 5 minute walk from the hotel (they do lock the doors at 10pm).
If you prefer an apartment, this one is where we stayed - it is a 2 bedroom self contained apartment, and an easy 3 minute walk to the hospital: https://www.airbnb.co.nz/rooms/20776806 The host; Margot actually worked at the hospital so is well aware of the necessary coming's and going's.
These apartments are 2.5 km from the hospital : http://ferienwohnung-schroiff.nrwestphaliahotels.com/en/
This place is about 10 mins drive away : https://www.airbnb.co.nz/rooms/3131535?adults=1&check_in=2017-12-13&check_out=2017-12-22&children=1&guests=2&infants=0&location=Simmerath%2C+Germany
Some people stay in Aachen at the Ibis or Aquis Grana.
Any issues with the facilities at Simmerath?
Biggest hurdle if you do not speak German will be the language barrier. Apart from this, the facilities are fantastic, although the food has caused some raised eyebrows :-), just due to the traditional menu. It may be a plan to take non-perishable favourite foods with you.
On the Station, lunch is the hot meal of the day, with breakfast & dinner both being cold.
Please remember that generally speaking this is an adult hospital, so there are some oddities i.e. there are no height charts anywhere - so measure your patients before arriving (in cm).
The Wards here are called 'Stations'. On the Stations there is:
A lockable wardrobe in your room
A safe in your wardrobe in your room
A water fountain on the ward
A drinks station on the ward where tea & coffee is served all day
A fridge in your wardrobe :-)
The cafeteria is open most days all day
Wifi is available from reception
Can a caregiver stay in the hospital with the patient ?
Yes, from pre-op through to post surgery, a caregiver can stay with the patient on the ward and in ICU. The hospital accomodates on the ward with a private room with ensuite and 2 beds, one parent can be there for the whole time. In intensive care they will give you a chair bed.
Is there Wifi in the hospital ?
Yes there is. You can obtain codes for your devices at the main reception desk.
However, there is no Wifi within the intensive care unit (ICU).
Any packing tips ?
There is a list of items to pack here. However, there are a few differences for Germany including:
- In the bathrooms they only have hand sanitiser rather than soap, so perhaps either a bar or pump of hand soap
- Perhaps a thermos flask to keep the milk on the ward cold.
- Your own teabags and coffee sachets if you love a particular type.
- Particular items of food i.e. 2 minute noodles etc, as the menu is pretty limited.
- You cannot go bare foot in the ward at all, so perhaps some slip on shoes for parents / patients
- Pair of trainers (running shoes) for the patient to aid them when first starting to walk the ward / stairs etc.
- Best tip EVER. Take a cheap wireless doorbell with you, so if the patient is in a separate room post discharge you know they need you.
- Take your own pillow, as the ones in hospital are quite lumpy :-) - I had a pillowcase made with the phrase "you are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe, smarter than you think, and loved more than you'll ever know", I did this as a surprise when she came out of surgery and it was small enough to hide in the packing.
Local places to eat?
There are lots of places to eat in Simmerath; from cafe's with gorgeous pastries & breads, to a pizzeria, a Bistro, an American Grill and a couple of supermarkets. A MacDonalds and Burger King are approximately 6km away.
There is a lovely rustic pizzeria which does take out, a minutes walk from the hospital. Out the hospital, turn left, and it's opposite The American Grill.
The Lotus Chinese (across the road from the hospital) has a buffet service.
Skye's favourite cafe is Nobis; a 5 min walk from the hospital, and next door to the Kragemann Hotel.
Chest drains - how long are they in ?
There is no rule and everyone is different, however, 'normally' if you are having a single tether, then the chest drain is removed within 24-48 hours. If you are having a double tether, then the first chest drain is out within 24 hours and the second within 2-4 days.
Initial post operation concerns (from a patient perspective)
Chest drain(s). Make sure that the chest tube is draining and not kinked or patient laying on tube. Do not touch chest tube site or chest tube, leave it to the nurses. When patients gets up, make sure that the chest tube is always below the patient so that it drains properly. The tube draining should become less each day, the first few days it is bright red in colour and then it will start to become lighter and almost yellowish. Basically ask nurses to check tube regularly. If possible keep bottom half of bed downward to emable the chest tube to drain properly. There are no set timeframes that the drain(s) will remain in for. Everyone is different.
Numbness - Sometimes the leg from the knee upwards can become numb. This is due to the movement of the Psoas muscle during the operation (lumbar). The numbness goes after a few days, but can be painful and scary.
When moving from ICU to the ward, ensure that the pain meds are monitored carefully to keep pain under control.
When in bed, have head of the bed slightly elevated. This is good for lung drainage.
Try deep breathing as much as the patient can.
Try to deep cough to move the phlegm, also drinking hot tea will help loosen up phlegm and make coughing easier.
Do not twist or bend the body. Do log roll to get out of bed.
Get up and walk as much as you can daily. The first few times will cause dizziness, so go gently.
Try doing leg pumps when laying to help promote blood circulation from not being able to walk.
Be aware that being on pain meds causes constipation, so watch for early signs.
Itching is normal due to the meds, but rashes or hives is not - let the nurse know if you see a rash or hives occurring
When can you fly home after surgery?
Every case is different due to the severity of the surgery, however, a vague idea is 7 days post operation, for a single tether, and up to 21 days for international patients with severe double curves.
How long post surgery do you need to stay in Germany?
Depending on the severity of the surgery, up to 21 days post surgery before leaving the country and returning home.
What follow up does Dr T require post surgery ?
Dr T is happy for you to travel to him for follow ups at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months etc or from your local facilities and sending information through to him.
Has Dr T turned down anyone for ASC?
Yes, Dr T has his own parameters, and has turned down some patients whilst recommending a fusion path.
If you are heading to Simmerath for your surgery, would you please take a fridge magnet from wherever in the world you are from and give it to the Intensive Care team. They have a whiteboard in their tea room, which they'd like to fill with all the places in the world where their patients are from.
Here are some coverage from patients who've been to Germany about their story, please click their pictures to read more:
The hospital is beautiful; modern, clean, with very special touches.
Just off reception are the registration rooms that you go to when 'checking in'.
There are lots of lovely touches from the staff at the hospital, which makes it feel very warm and welcoming. It was around Easter time when we were there.
The hospital is beautiful; modern, clean, with very special touches.
Here is a great interview with Dr Trobisch on his technique:
Above also is a slideshow showing some of the facilities within the hospital.
Please see below a question & answer piece about having your surgery in Germany, please note, this information is based upon what we have learnt on our journeys and may differ for individuals - please reach out to Dr T & his team for absolute
detail should you require.