Success Stories

For over 15 years an Austrian research group lead by Dr. H. Winkler has been developing successful methods for the treatment of osteomyelitis, a bone inflammation caused by bacteria. Many patients have already been successfully helped.

Our success stories:

Ralph M., born 1958, Germany

In July 2009 I suffered a motorcycle accident in Poland, near Gdansk. An oncoming car crossed into my lane and collided with me. I suffered an open fracture grade 3 on the thigh, a chipped patella with torn ligaments, a fracture of the tibial plateau and other injuries.

After emergency treatment at Wojeweho Hospital I was treated at Virchow Charité Wedding Hospital. Until mid-November 2009 I underwent surgery 13 times. Through a skin graft, amputation of the left forefoot could be prevented. My tibia and fibia were treated with implants.

In July 2011 the implants were removed from the left leg, and it was found that the left thigh had not completely healed. This thigh was to get fixed along with a knee replacement.

At the end of January 2012 the knee got infected and had to be removed. On April 10 – after no more germs were detected – a new knee joint was implanted.

This prosthesis caused pain from the beginning. The ability to bend my knee was hampered, although 100% functionality had been predicted.

Mid-September 2012 a reinfection occurred, causing high fever and severe pain. Virchow Charité Wedding Hospital suggested amputation as the next step.

I refused and my wife and I began to look for another hospital. Our health care plan allowed us to seek worldwide.
Finally, we narrowed it down to two hospitals – Endoklinik in Hamburg and Döbling Private Hospital in Vienna. We chose the latter, because there Dr. Heinz Winkler uses a unique treatment method, with which osteomyelitis can be stopped and reinfection of the joint prevented.

In Germany, we definitely had no chance of treatment anymore.

The surgery performed by Dr. Winkler took place on December 11, 2012. It was high time, because by then the pain was so severe it barely gave me room to breathe. During surgery it was discovered that the upper part of the prosthesis was loose and could be removed with two fingers. In addition to the infection, this had been the cause of pain.

After radical removal of all residual cement, the joint was then implanted with natural bone (cancellous bone), dispensing the use of any cement.

After surgery by Dr. Heinz Winkler in Vienna, my health has steadily improved and my inflammatory markers are back to normal. I have stopped taking medication over a year ago and I can bend my leg 90 degrees.

Andrei V., born 1985, Romania

After my car accident in 2008, I had a femur fracture on my right leg. In in May 2009 – after 3 unsuccessful surgeries in Romania – I arrived at Döbling Private Hospital with an infected and unhealed fracture, and with a fever.

In June 2009 I underwent surgery by Dr. Heinz Winkler. I received an intramedullary nail that was inserted in the thigh, fixators consisting of 4 screws, 2 on the upper end, 2 on the lower, as well as a treatment for osteomyelitis with bone chips.

I spent a week in the hospital. After only one operation, the infection disappeared immediately and after 2 months I was able to walk without crutches.

A year later, the upper fixator (2 screws) has been removed so as to speed the healing process along.
4 years after that: Since then I have had absolutely no problems and I do lots of sports (jogging, biking, swimming).

Yuriy G., born 1941, Georgia

In early 2009 I traveled from Georgia to Austria to have my bad leg treated by Dr. Winkler. I was suffering from chronic osteomyelitis that none of the doctors in my home country seemed to be able to heal. I was condemned to walk on crutches for the rest of my life, because my bone was destroyed by an infection and could not support my legs. Dr. Winkler was my last hope...

I came to Dr. Winkler in a wheelchair, two months after the surgery I was already back on my legs. Every year thereafter I came to Dr. Winkler for a checkup. After three years my esteemed doctor took me off his list and said I was now a healthy person again. Now I can do gymnastics, take long walks and lead a normal, full life!

Dr. Winkler has given me back my old life, and for that I am eternally grateful to him! As a religious man I always pray for his health. I would like to thank Dr. Winkler with all my heart!

Olga V., born 1952, Kazakhstan

Narrated by her daughter Natalia G.:

My mother (born in 1952) was initially diagnosed with severe right hip and knee osteoarthritis back in 2008. She first was prescribed different pills, injections but mainly used non-steroid pain killers. Only after several years to get the medical verdict that a joint (hip and knee) replacement is absolutely critical. Hip replacement surgery was done in May 2011 in a clinic in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

She scar had a hard time moving after the operation and the scar did not heal properly. After three months a big inflammation appeared on the scar and my mom had to go to the clinic for its removal.

After this scar cleaning, my mom started to feel severe pain not in the hip or non-operated knee, but in the muscles between hip and knee. She tried different therapies but the pain in the muscles was only growing. In October 2012 when my mom had severe intoxication, fever, and her leg below and above the knee was seriously swollen, I took her to a hospital in South Korea where she had a surgery to treat abscess and clean puff from inflammation. Her condition stabilised but after a few months she had a serious inflammation below the hip replacement scar.

In January 2013 I took her to Novosibirsk where a Russian doctor said that it was a post-surgery infection and the hip joint should be removed and a new one implanted after 6 months of inflammation treatment.

My mother and I were shocked and I mmediately started searching medical papers on hip replacement complications, infections, secondary hip replacement and used mainly medical journals and professional publications. I was lucky to came across Dr Winkler’s publications regarding treating infections of a total hip replacement in one stage using the newest methods. I was absolutely impressed and contacted him and the International Department of Private Clinic “Döbling” in Vienna, where he is practicing this unique method.

Having collected the money (initial costs was 50,000 Euro), received new passports we flew to Vienna 13 February 2013 to start preparation for the surgery next day.

Dr Winkler pointed out that the first post surgery X-ray done already showed infection around the original hip replacement and by the time of my mom’s arrival to Dobling, her pelvic bone (??) was completely depleted... Despite found it out on Friday afternoon, Dr Winkler ordered necessary hip replacement parts and materials, and Saturday, February 14, 2013 the surgery started.
It ran over 8 hours... very long 8 hours....

After the surgery Dr Winker explaining how it went and that some unexpected things happened (during the surgery, the bone was so thin because of the infection that there was a fracture, that had to be fixed with a plate, but this new plate did not allow the originally ordered hip replacements to be placed, so new, lego type hip replacement was ordered and delivered immediately to fix hip replacement).Dr Winkler explained that the infection went into the bones, tissue and his new implants with grafts would fix the situation.

As the problem with knee was still to be handled, Dr Winkler recommended to do it in 2-3 months, especially with fracture to be healed.

Even online Dr Winkler has always responded to my queries and provided advice and commented my mom’s x-rays and blood tests. And it was not even a matter of consideration to do planned knee replacement anywhere else, only at Dobling by Dr Winkler!

When he gave OK to schedule surgery for mid-June to do the knee replacement.

The surgery was planned for mid of June, so we were again in Vienna, again arriving a day before the surgery and again being extremely impressed with professionalism and friendliness of Dr Winkler and clinic staff.

This surgery went smoothly... my mom had self-blood infusion and started standing up and walking with the help of Dr Winkler and physiotherapists. We received detailed instructions how to live after these surgeries.

My last interaction with Dr Winkler was last October/November, when after seeing the recent x-ray, he confirmed that the hip and knee replacements are stable, fracture is healed, and he supported rehabilitation and physiotherapy and exercises.

My mom’s thigh and knee muscles were absolute deactivated because of pain and infection) and now she is walking some distances at home without a walking stick or a crunch!!!!! She has not taken pain killers for several months, and today she was able to raise her operated leg up!!!!!!

I am tremendously grateful to Dr Winkler and his team for this medical miracle!!!!! I am so appreciative for his talent, his innovation, his confidence-building, his care, his talented hands, professionalism and humanism!

As we say it in Russian, a deep bow to you Dr Winkler, for your excellent work for literally saving my mom’s life and returning her to almost normal lifestyle!!!

My special thank you to intensive therapy doctors – Monika and Anna (??) who took care of me when I fainted after the first surgery - was too emotionally and nervously exhausted to hear the good news....

Hester from Amsterdam

In The Netherlands I was diagnosed with osteomyelitis. It was a post-operative infection. My shoulder was infected with staphylococcus aureus bacteria during an operation called barbotage. This is a procedure to break the calcium lumps developed in the inner tendons of shoulder (calcific tendonitis), using a long needle. 

After 2 different hospitals in The Netherlands I arrived at the 3rd Dutch hospital where they should be able to treat me. This was an academic hospital. My condition however was deplorable. My shoulder joint was destroyed by the bacteria. It was so bad, that they suggested to remove the humerus head, the top of the arm. Then they would insert beads containing gentamycin (genta pearls) to kill the bacteria. These pearls would have to be replaced several times, involving several operations. This would be the only option in The Netherlands.

 Chances that the infection would disappear by the above standard treatment were not very big the Dutch surgeon said. This is however a pre-condition to install an artificial shoulder. Since my shoulder was so heavily damaged by the bacteria the Dutch surgeon was not very confident that it would offer enough holding to screw in the artificial shoulder joint. In that case my arm would be dangling down my body for the rest of my life. And what if the bacteria would slowly eat its way down into my body and up my neck into my head?

This prospect obviously did not appeal to me.

I decided to investigate the possibilities abroad.

Searching the internet for experts in osteomyelitis I found a German patient forum that lead me to the Osteitis Centre at Doebling Private Hospital. 

There I met Dr. Heinz Winkler who changed my outlook on life completely.

Dr. Winkler uses a special material to rebuild the shoulder, called Osteomycin. By doing this, I didn't need to get an artificial joint. 

First he cleaned the shoulder joint meticulously for hours. After that, he sculpted back the joint artisticly. Osteomycin has the capacity to release antibiotics for at least a week, any residing bacteria will be killed by it. Three days after the operation my blood didn't show any infection any more and I could leave the hospital within a week. To be sure I took oral antibiotics for several weeks after. My partner and I stayed in Vienna for a week of vacation and we enjoyed the beautiful city. Since then, my shoulder is fully functioning, thanks to Dr. Winkler. I consider him to be an excellent, innovative surgeon. Everything went swift and smoothly. Also I was very well informed by him. The scar is hardly noticeable, and most importantly: my mobility is far better than he dared to promise. 

I feel blessed to have found Dr. Winkler.

Eveline F., Austria

An ordeal with a happy ending, thanks to Dr. Winkler! – Eveline F., Austria

In May 2015 I had a fall and sustained a periprosthetic fracture. Consequently, my prosthetic hip joint had to be replaced. A long shaft prosthetic was used, fixed with 2 screws. I spent 6 weeks confined to bed or a wheelchair, as I could not put any weight on that leg. In the middle of August, the wound had become red, with increasingly severe pain, and a fistula appeared. At the post-operative check, the fistula was cut open and a bloody secretion drained out.

I was admitted as an inpatient and underwent 14 days treatment with intravenous antibiotics; during the joint replacement operation I had evidently acquired a multi-resistant bacterial infection in the wound.

On June 7th I had a heart valve replacement, after which I was sent to rehabilitation care; however, after two weeks I had to return, because my thigh had become red, swollen, and almost unbearably painful.

On September 13, 2016, I had a high fever and the wound was seeping pus. I was admitted to the hospital, the wound was cut open, cleaned up and a vacuum pump was inserted. After 7 weeks the vacuum pump was removed, I was started on antibiotics and then discharged from the hospital.

On discharge the doctors told me that I had two options.

  • The implant could be removed, I would spend 6 weeks in bed with an open wound, and the implant would then be refitted. However, due to my age and the heart valve history I was advised against this.
  • Or the wound could remain open for the rest of my life, and would need to be dressed every second day.

To “comfort” me they pointed out that no-one had ever survived very long with this kind of infection.

Talking to heart surgeons I discovered there was a specialist in Austria who was able to treat infected wounds with a single operation; I was given the name of Dr. Heinz WINKLER. Right from the start, at the first consultation, I was very impressed by Dr. Winkler.

So on February 9, 2017, the time came, and Dr. Winkler carried out my four-hour operation. The procedure went very well, and the pain was gone, apart from normal post-operative discomfort; on March 1, 2017, I was able to leave the hospital on crutches and am still pain-free today.

I have rediscovered my zest for life, I am sometimes able to walk without any support at all, my blood counts have returned to normal – and this is all thanks to Dr. Winkler.

Without Dr. Winkler I would not be alive today, and I would like to thank him once again with all my heart for his sympathetic care both before and after the operation, and for the successful outcome.

 

 

 

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