Thought I’d share this story as White Sox pitchers and catchers prepare to report to spring training Thursday in Glendale, Ariz.
It explains Jake Peavy’s radical surgery last July.
CONTACT: Dr. Tony Romeo M.D.
Midwest Orthopedics at Rush
Michael Breen M.D.
FOR RELEASE: Immediate 312-321-6911
Jake Peavy Benefits From Pioneering Surgery...And So Do Thousands Of Others!
Jake Peavy's successful return to Spring Training is a personal victory and a surgical first. He becomes the first MLB pitcher to receive successful surgery for what is normally a career-threatening injury.
But Peavy's operation is even more. His surgery has paved the way for a new surgical technique that will help athletes across the country.
Peavy's ruptured latissimus dorsi muscle had recoiled deep in the pitcher's multi-million dollar arm. The legendary Dr. James Andrews recommended Rush University's Dr. Anthony Romeo to retrieve the muscle and reattach it to Peavy's arm bone. Dr. Romeo has experience with the latissimus tendon because he frequently uses the muscle in tendon transfer procedures for severe rotator cuff problems.
But last July, as Romeo manipulated a forceps to grip the tip of Peavy's deeply buried tendon without injuring the Cy Young winner's critical nerves and arteries, he felt there had to be a better way to perform the operation.
He says, "I realized athletes with this injury, and also the more common pectoralis major rupture, needed a better procedure. They needed a safer procedure any surgeon could be comfortable with." The orthopedic surgeon heads the Shoulder Service at Rush Medical College and is a co-Team Physician for the White Sox.
Pectoralis major ruptures have dramatically increased as powerlifting has become more popular. Weight lifters simply call them "pec ruptures." The muscle usually ruptures during a difficult bench press. The injury also strikes wrestlers, football players, hockey players, and other athletes. The tip of the pectoralis major is located near to the latissimus dorsi, and when ruptured, also recoils and "bunches up" several inches into the arm.
Motivated by Peavy's surgery, Dr. Romeo has transformed the standard operation to treat both injuries. "First," he says, "we needed a safer way to reach the tip of the muscle." The surgeon developed a new technique that now allows surgeons to reach the muscle through the axilla. The approach is easier, more direct, and less likely to injury arteries and nerves.
Second, Dr. Romeo developed a better, stronger, and easier method to anchor the tendon to the arm bone. "The real significance of this technique is that we can repair the torn tendon with less injury to the arm," says the surgeon. "That's especially true with the pec major. Previously, we would use 6-8 sutures through as many bone tunnels or holes. Now, we just need 3-4 of these new anchors that hold 2 strong sutures each. The fewer tunnels we make in the arm, the less the likelihood of a future fracture." Dr. Romeo has a manuscript prepared for future publication that details the surgical technique and the method of using the new anchors.
The bottom line is more athletes nationwide will now, like Peavy, be able to benefit by receiving a surgery specifically designed for their injuries. As for the White Sox pitcher, Dr. Romeo says, "He has met all of our post-surgical goals and will be reporting to Spring training on time. He continues to advance his rehabilitation and strengthening and is in reach of his goal of returning to MLB pitching this upcoming season."
The White Sox investment in their 16 million dollar arm looks like it's going to pay off. Not just for Jake Peavy, but for thousands of other athletes as well.