Tom Brady having complications with surgery.
Tom Brady has reportedly suffered multiple setbacks in his recovery from surgery to repair a ACL because of an infection. He had three additional procedures to get rid of the infection. Last week Brady confirmed that he had another surgery to “clean and to test the wound,” but there could have been other surgeries done since then. Doctors fear the infections will compromise the initial reconstruction and the entire process may have to be redone. Infections after knee surgery are considered rare and one doctor told the Boston Herald that Brady has had “really bad luck.” He could be OK if the infections clear, but the process could prove career threatening if Brady needs another full reconstruction. (Boston Herald)
In my opinion, the only reason this should be career threatening is if doctors can not control the infection. There are strands of bacteria out there that we have no anti-biotics for, but it’s much too early to assume that is the case for now.
Why does the suregery need to be redone, I’ll have to explain the healing process of an ACL reconstruction to explain why.
Usually muscle like the patella or hamstring tendon is used to make the new ACL because muscle can heal back to normal, where ligaments need the right environment to heal properly. For instance, muscle strains heal by themselves over time because the blood supply in muscle is a lot higher than in ligaments. Also ligaments that get sprained has a much higher chance to get sprained again.
The reason why ACL surgery takes 7-8 months to recover for is because the new ACL goes through changes in the tissue tensil properties. The muscle tissue that is the new ACL actually breaks down and is at it’s weakest at the 4 month mark. The contractile tissue will stiffen to gain dense ligament properties. So, while the tissue is going through this change there are certain things the athlete is not allowed to perform to gain strength back in the surrounding muscles.
If the newly reconstructed tissue gets infected, the tissue will not be able to go through this process and gain ligament properties as strong as it would without the infection. So, the chances of the ACL tearing again increase. Instead of seeing how strong the new ACL will become after the infection, doctors for athletes will probably opt to perform the surgery again instead of the athlete getting hurt in the middle of the season once again.
Brady has time to be back if he has the surgery again, but I think it’s going to take a bit longer rehab time since a second surgery will put that much more truama to the leg muscles, hence needing more time to build strength back up.
If the infection starts at the scars for the incisions and was controled in time, it will not be neccessary to have the surgery redone. However, for a star player like Brady if there is a chance the infect spread to the reconstructed ACL, I would think they would opt to go ahead and have the surgery again. Brady still has about 9 months to recover, but before he has the surgery again doctors will certainly make sure the infection is gone first. This could take a couple more weeks and is probably why he continues to get surgeries to “clean out” the infection.