Speedy Recovery Expected for Louisville Basketball Player's Open Tibia Fracture

One orthopedic surgeon estimates University of Louisville sophomore guard Kevin Ware will return to the basketball court after six months of healing and rehabilitation following emergency surgery on the athlete's compound fracture in his right tibia.

After scoring three points and completing a steal in the Midwest Regional championship game against the Blue Devils, University of Louisville sophomore guard Kevin Ware suffered a compound tibia fracture in his right leg when he awkwardly landed from a failed attempt to block a shot by Duke University junior guard Tyler Thornton with less than seven minutes remaining in the first half.

Louisville athletics officials said in a press release Ware successfully had his broken “bone reset, the wound from the injury closed and a rod inserted in his right tibia during approximately two hours of surgery” at Methodist Hospital, in Indianapolis, on Sunday night, but questions centered on his recovery timetable and return to the court remain unanswered.

Nevertheless, several orthopedic experts — as well as clinical trial results published in the November 2003 edition of the Journal of Trauma — have already shed light on pitfalls the NBA hopeful may face or potentially avoid before he rejoins Louisville’s lineup.

In their “Outcomes in Open Tibia Fractures: Relationship Between Delay in Treatment and Infection” study of 103 patients with 106 open fractures, Monti Khatod, MD, and coauthors found a reported infection rate 10 to 20 times higher for compound tibia fractures compared to open fractures in other areas of the body, but they also discovered no infection occurred when the time from injury to initial operative debridement was within two hours.

That’s good news for Ware, as the press release from Louisville noted he was undergoing surgery within two hours, which was also the operation’s approximate time length.

In terms of Ware’s recovery period, Johnny Benjamin, MD, of Pro Spine Center, in Vero Beach, Fla., observed on Twitter late Monday afternoon that Louisville’s “injured star” was “standing on crutches (one) day after surgery,” which reinforced his previous tweet published shortly after Ware was taken off the court on a stretcher that the athlete “will be fine and on his way to the NBA” after three months of post-operative healing and another three months of rehabilitation.

“Horrible looking injury when you see it live in HD, but as ortho(pedic) surgeons we do an excellent job with that injury!” Benjamin tweeted. “People worried about potential nerve or vascular damage can relax. Not likely from mid-shaft tibia fracture. Wash out, antibiotics and a rod or external fixator and Ware will be ready for the NBA."