- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 29, 2005

A Baltimore doctor has become part of the Super Bowl hype now that the status of his star patient has emerged as a key factor in the game.

The interest in ankle-and-foot specialist Dr. Mark Myerson started when he operated on Philadelphia Eagles star receiver Terrell Owens, following his injury in a Dec. 19 regular season game against the Dallas Cowboys.

But as the Eagles moved through the playoffs and into next weekend’s Super Bowl showdown with the New England Patriots, the doctor has become one of the most talked-about people surrounding the game.

The Mercy Medical Center Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction, where Dr. Myerson is the director, says it has received more than a hundred calls, including ones from the New York Times and USA Today.

This is not the first time Dr. Myerson has performed surgery on a professional athlete.

He operated on NBA players Zyndrunas Ilgauskas and Grant Hill. And last week he operated on Owen’s teammate Chad Lewis.

Lewis, a tight end, hurt his ankle Jan. 24 in the National Football Conference championship against the Atlanta Falcons.

Dr. Myerson says his methods are, in part, the result of his education and training at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, which he says were less technical and more hands-on than in the United States.

“So I have learned to rely somewhat less on sophisticated testing,” he recently told the Daily Record newspaper in Baltimore. “Frequently, I will stand at the door [and] look at how the patient holds his or her foot or stands or walks. I watch the muscles functioning and often make the diagnosis right there.”

Dr. Myerson was also an orthopedic resident at Sinai Hospital, Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland. He completed his fellowship at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York and served as the director of foot and ankle services at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore until 2002, then moved his practice to Mercy.

Before operating on Owens, Dr. Myerson put him to sleep to recreate the injury to learn more about the extent of the damage.

Owens’ problem, called a syndesmosis injury, occurs when the foot is planted and the leg twists outward. The force on the ankle continues outward and either tears a group of ligaments in the ankle or cracks the fibula. Owens did both so Dr. Myerson decided to let the fibula heal and inserted a screw in the ankle to stabilize the joint.

The story about Owens’ injury faded slightly after the surgery because he was given only a slight chance of recovering in time for the Super Bowl. But Dr. Myerson quickly returned to the spotlight after Owens was seen on national TV chest-butting teammates and prancing around on the sideline and at the close of the Atlanta game, days before Dr. Myerson was scheduled to decide whether Owens was ready to play again.

He said no, but team officials will most likely decide closer to game time

“Dr. Myerson has made his pronouncement,” said Dan Collins, his media director. “We don’t expect to see Terrell until after the Super Bowl. … We can give advice, but the decision is ultimately up to the client.”

Eagles officials realize that Dr. Myerson doesn’t want Owens to injure himself again.

“We understand Dr. Myerson’s point of view [but] our risk-reward is different then his,” said Eagles head trainer Rick Burkholder.

Dr. E. Pepper, of Seattle, says Dr. Myerson eschewed the more lucrative fields of sports medicine and total-joint replacement to focus on improving operating techniques to match the technology advances for ankle-and-foot repairs over the past 20 years — including screws and bone anchors.

“Basically, we had the technology to really further this area but did not have the innovation and surgical principles to know how to use it,” he said. “Dr. Myerson in the last 15 [years] has contributed more than anyone I know in the world in developing innovative surgical techniques.”

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