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Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Santana Likely Suffers a Serious Leg Injury

In seventh inning of the Monday night game against the Red Sox, Indians’ catcher, Carlos Santana suffered a left leg injury in a collision at home plate with Red Sox left fielder Ryan Kalish.  He was carted off of the field with an air splint.  Although official reports are still pending, from the looks of the video, it appears that Santana may have fractured/broken his left tibia bone.

ANATOMY

The leg between the knee and the ankle contains two bones: the tibia and the fibula.  The tibia is the inner bone, also known as the shin bone. This bone is the large bone of the leg.  The fibula is much smaller.

CAUSES

The tibia can break with direct trauma, such as a car bumper hitting a pedestrian at the shin, or with a direct load going through the heel and up the leg, such as a person jumping.

SYMPTOMS

An individual who breaks the leg bone will not be able to walk on their leg. There will be immediate pain, swelling, and pressure.  The leg bone can bleed so much that the pressure in the leg is high enough to stop the blood supply to the leg, a condition known as compartment syndrome.  If the broken bone breaks through the skin, this is known as an open fracture (similar to the injury suffered by Joe Theismann, former quarterback for the Washington Redskins).

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE

If you believe you have a tibia fracture, you should seek medical attention immediately.

TREATMENT

Tibia fractures can be treated without surgery, if the break has not shifted.  This requires a long period of time, without weight on the leg, and in a cast.  The bone can take 8 to 12 weeks to heal.  For this reason, most orthopaedic surgeons prefer to surgical fix a tibial break.  The bone is accessed through the knee and a rod is placed inside the tibia bone and across the break.  This allows for stabilization of the bone, and the ability to start placing weight on the leg within 1-2 days.  Occasionally, a surgeons may choose to fix these breaks with plates and screws.

OUTCOMES

If there is not a lot o damage to the surrounding muscles, nerves, and blood vessels, a patient may be able to resume all activities once the bone has healed.  More often, there is some long-term loss of motion or strength, making it difficult for an athlete to return to competitive play.

RETURN TO ACTIVITIES

We will know more about the extent of Santana’s injury over the next few days.

If Santana has a tibia fracture, he will probably be out for he rest of this season. If there has been a lot of damage to the surrounding leg muscles, this could end his career.

VIDEO/ANIMATIONS

For a video animation of “Tibia Fractures”, please see the “Education” tab of my website.  Click orthopaedics, then knee, then conditions, then “Tibia Fracture”.

Dr. P

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All material published through this blog/website is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Patients and consumers should review the information carefully with their professional health care provider. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Dr. Parekh and Duke University will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising from the discussions in this blog.

Locations

  • N.C. Orthopaedic Clinic
  • Durham Regional Hospital
  • Davis Ambulatory Surgery Center
  • Duke Hospital North
  • Duke Ambulatory Surgery Center

(919) 471-9622

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