UConn Women’s Basketball Star Paige Bueckers Undergoes Ankle Surgery
UConn women’s basketball star Paige Bueckers had surgery on her ankle in the last week. The press release noted that she had an osteochondral defect. This means that an area of the cartilage of her talus, as well as a small piece of the underlying bone, was injured. Osteochondral defects (OCDs) are common injuries of the talus, as well as many other bones in the body. They can happen during a trauma/injury, or can happen without an injury due to poor blood supply/growth irregularity. Paige’s injury seems to have been an acute one as the article notes she had a bad ankle sprain about 2 months ago.
Surgery for an OCD has many goals. First, the injured cartilage needs to be removed. Unfortunately, cartilage has a very poor blood supply and can very rarely be left to heal on its own. Damaged or injured cartilage thus usually has to be removed. Second, the cartilage defect must be filled with a goal of re-growing cartilage. This can be accomplished a number of different ways. “Microfracture surgery” involves drilling small holes into the bone with the goal of creating fresh bleeding bone which will hopefully fill the defect. This technique is usually augmented with either BMAC (bone marrow aspirate concentrate), PRP (platelet rich plasma) or allograft (cadaver) cartilage to supplement the growing cartilage.
Recovery from OCD surgery can be quite lengthy. Patients are usually non weight bearing in a cast or a boot for 4-6 weeks to allow the new cartilage to grow. Full recovery can take 3-6 months.