Bears tight end Zach Miller has been discharged from a hospital in New Orleans. He is being admitted to another hospital in Chicago where medical personnel will continue to monitor his knee and leg.
An emergency procedure on Miller to save his leg went well last Sunday, but Miller isn’t completely out of the woods according to one Rockford surgeon.
Dr. Kendall Boone is a vascular surgeon at SwedishAmerican hospital in Rockford. He performs artery bypass surgeries similar to the one Miller underwent when his popliteal artery behind his knee was torn when the knee became dislocated in the New Orleans game.
“When that artery tears it basically cuts the blood supply off immediately and it turns the injury into a limb-threatening injury, so that within four hours if it’s not repaired he could lose the leg,” says Boone.
Boone sees these injuries locally mostly in people who are involved in automobile accidents, but he has seen them in athletes too.
“Anyone who lands hard enough in the wrong way on their leg and dislocates their knee is at risk for this,” says Boone. “It can also happen with any joint in the body, shoulders, elbows. hips.”
(Boone describes procedure) “The artery usually runs behind this bone, and you can see that it’s subject to getting stretched out of place by this dislocation,” says Boone while pointing to an X-ray of a dislocated knee.
“The bypass repair looks something like this where a piece of vein is taken from the other leg and we bypass from the artery above where it’s good to below where it’s good and bypass the popliteal artery that was injured.”
“Usually the success of these repairs is about 90 percent,” says Boone.
But Miller isn’t in the clear yet.
“He may not be out of the woods from losing the leg,” says Boone. “Some people can still have delayed amputations despite the successful initial repair.”
Boone says it’s possible for an athlete to compete again after a surgery like this one.
“It is. I think his (Miller’s) ability to come back from this injury is probably going to be more releated to the knee damage rather than the artery damage.”
Miller is expected to undergo more surgery on the ligaments in his knee.