- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2002

The lateral meniscus cartilage, which Michael Jordan had repaired by arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday, is a horseshoe-shaped rubbery pad between the thigh bone and shin bone that acts as a cushion or shock absorber.
With repeated trauma, small tears can develop in the lateral meniscus and lead to pain and swelling, such as Jordan had experienced in recent weeks.
The Washington Wizards said the repairs to the lateral meniscus cartilage in Jordan's right knee was performed by Dr. Stephen Haas at Sibley Hospital in the District. Haas, the team physician, attributed the physical damage to "normal wear and tear on the knee" from Jordan's athletic career.
In arthroscopic surgery, a doctor makes a small incision on one side of the kneecap and inserts an instrument called an arthroscope a telescope about the size of a soda straw.
The arthroscope contains optic fibers that transmit a clear image of the knee's interior through a small camera to a television monitor. The television lets the surgeon determine the cause of a patient's knee problems.
Another small incision is made on the other side of the kneecap through which are inserted small surgical instruments to remove or repair damaged tissue. Such instruments may include scissors, clamps, motorized shavers or lasers.
The Wizards did not provide details of Jordan's arthroscopic surgery, and his press agent, Estee Portnoy, said, "Michael has directed other doctors at Sibley not to discuss it. It's a personal thing."
Dr. David C. Johnson, an orthopedic surgeon at the Washington Hospital Center who does a half-dozen such procedures weekly, was able to fill in the blanks, based on Haas' statements, that Jordan's injuries were from normal wear and tear and that he will rest for the next few days before beginning therapy.
Johnson, also a clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at the George Washington University and Georgetown University medical schools, said the procedure itself is "fairly routine" and normally takes about 35 minutes to complete.
More than 1.5million arthroscopies are performed in the United States each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). The surgery is effective in removing or repairing damaged meniscal cartilage in 85 percent of cases, Johnson said.
The orthopedic surgeon said he has to assume Jordan had small tears in his cartilages, based on Haas' assertion that they were the result of normal wear and tear.
"A patient will experience pain for a day or two [after the arthroscopic surgery] and swelling anywhere from a few days up to three weeks," he said.
Recovery from arthroscopy is much faster than recovery from traditional open-knee surgery. A patient is told to keep his leg elevated as much as possible for the first few days afterward and apply ice as recommended by his doctor to relieve swelling and pain. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent infection.
Potential post-operative problems with knee arthroscopy include infection, blood clots and an accumulation of blood on the knee, according to the AAOS.
The organization says it is "reasonable to expect that by six to eight weeks, you should be able to engage in most of your former physical activities as long as they do not involve significant weight-bearing impact."
It adds that "twisting maneuvers may have to be avoided for a longer time."


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