Lance Armstrong’s Surgery Succesful
Clavicle in four pieces.
Lance Armstrong underwent successful surgery yesterday to repair what doctors originally thought was a “simple” fracture of his clavicle (collarbone). “This was not correct,” said Dr. Doug Elenz, an Austin, Texas, USA, orthopedic surgeon who frequently operates on athletes. “It was not in two, but four pieces.”
Dr. Elenz, along with another surgeon and physician’s assistant, used a five inch stainless steel plate with 12 screws to repair Armstrong’s fracture. He noted that this was more than they would normally use, but necessary based on the extent of the fracture.
Armstrong did not spend the night in the hospital, but was brought to his home in Austin to recouperate. In terms of rehabilitation, the doctor wants Armstrong to take it easy for a week to let the wound heal, then start back into aerobic training using some form of stationary exercise bike so as not use his upper extremities, and then they’d see about getting back on the road.
As expected, most questions revolve around when Armstrong will be able to be back on the bike training, if not racing. “Normally we see 8-12 weeks for something like this to heal completely,” Dr. Elenz said, stressing the word “completely.” He went on to say that it would be a day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month progression as they first looked for radiographic union (evidence of bone growth), a stable fracture with no plate movement, increased arm motion and fluidity, and Armstrong’s own pain factor. When asked what pain medication he would be on, the doctor would only say that he prescribed the same as he would for any patient or athlete following this procedure. While Dr. Elenz would not give a firm date on when he expected Armstrong to return to racing, he said that it will heal and he needs to give it time so he can get back to racing.
Dr. Elenz also noted that up to 50% of patients eventually need to have the plate and screws removed. “So don’t be surprised if one day we have to do this,” Dr. Elenz said.