Brandon Roy of the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA, the pride of Seattle Basketball, played tonight in game 4 of the Blazers playoff series with the Phoenix Suns. To those of you who are not sports fans, you may say, “So what?” The amazing thing is that Roy had arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus 8 days ago. Surgery for a torn meniscus has come a long ways in the last couple of decades. Prior to arthroscopy a torn meniscus resulted in an open surgery and removal of all or most of the meniscus. The recovery took months, and often a return to competitive sports was difficult. Arthroscopy (Arthro for joint and scopy for using a scope) changed all of that by markedly reducing the trauma to the knee capsule and muscles surrounding the knee, making recovery much quicker. Scopes have become smaller, and techniques better over the years. Roy had surgery at Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, WA by Dr. Don Roberts. I suspect he had only a small part of his meniscus removed, and minimal trauma was done to the other tissues of the knee. He returned tonight to play 26 minutes (just over half of the game) and helped his team to a win.
Things that have been learned about meniscus surgery are that with the much less invasive arthroscopic techniques available now, it is sometimes better to remove the least amount of meniscus possible, risking a later injury to the remaining meniscus that might require an additional surgery, because with arthroscopy doing another later surgery is not nearly as difficult as repeating an open surgery was in the days prior to arthroscopy. Leaving more of the meniscus behind allows the knee to function more normally and potentially leads to less future damage to the osteochondral cartilage, the cartilage that covers the bones the femur and tibia, so it is worth the risk of leaving more meniscus intact. Less extensive surgery also allows a faster recovery and less postoperative swelling, bleeding and pain. Still a return to NBA basketball 8 days after meniscus surgery must be some sort of record.
My son and my daughter’s boyfriend are big Blazers fans, so this is one aspect of modern medical progress that has made for a great weekend in the Pullen households.