Ask A Sportsdoc: Can Charlie Weis Die from Surgery
Last weekend, Charlie Weis, head coach of the Notre Dame football team, was injured on the sideline. I witnessed the injury live on television, it looked painful. He is reported to have torn both his MCL and ACL in his left leg. As these are common injuries in sports such as football I am not really interested in his recovery time from such an injury. I assume he’ll have to have surgery fairly soon. My question regards the prospects of such a surgery on such a large man. He weighs approximately 350 lbs and I don’t think is particularly healthy. In 2002, he underwent gastric bypass surgery, initially lost 90 lbs, but appears to have gained it all back. My question is this. What are the chances he would actually not survive surgery to repair his MCL and ACL, primarily due to his obesity? Sorry if this morbid, but I’ve heard that major surgery is more risky for severely overweight patients in regards to anesthesia and general complications. Is this true?
And though I do not root for his death, I do hate Notre Dame (I went to Michigan).
Knee reconstruction for ACL/MCL injuries are performed mostly under general and occasionally spinal anesthesia. Generally, in patients over 50 years, treatment of choice would not be surgery but rather bracing and physical therapy. Rarely, in a physiologically young high demand healthy and fit patient who expects to maintain an active life style, such as skiing and activities which require a stable knee, surgery will be undertaken. So, yes, Kiren, as with any surgery, obesity and unfit patients are at a higher risk to develop post-operative complications such as infection or blood clots that can be limb and life threatening. Also, specifically, as pertains to ACL surgery, a difficult and lengthy rehab may be compromised in a morbidly obese patient. My recommendation in an older, morbidly obese patient would be not to elect surgery but rather to proceed conservatively even though outcome may not be equal to surgical repair.
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