Orthopedic surgeon gives the lowdown on Kevin Durant's surgery
SI.com spoke with Dr. Steven M. Raikin, of the Rothman Institute, about Durant's injury, the surgery he will have and his rehabilitation process.
"This obviously is not his first go around with this particularly injury," Dr. Raikin said. "The area is notorious for having a poor blood supply and there's a higher non-healing rate. If you try to get back too quickly after surgery, and often there's a pressure to get people back, there's a higher chance of this failing."
Dr. Raikin said the surgery Durant will undergo this time is "a pretty routine procedure" that requires a small incision. He said the bone graft is typically taken from the same leg, either from the ankle or from the knee area.
"The idea is to replace any missing bone that has occurred from the non-healing area," he said. "You put bone grafts in there to fill up any missing space and try to supply living cells and generate protein to the area to stimulate the bone."
The biggest issue with the procedure, according to Dr. Raikin, is making sure enough time has passed to properly rehab and heal the foot before returning.
"You've got to give it time. This is not a quick turnaround procedure. It takes at least four months and often up to six months," he said.
The Thunder have given Durant an expected clearance date sometime between late-July and late-September.
Some fans have wondered if Durant returned too quickly after his initial surgery. Durant was diagnosed with the fracture in mid-October and underwent surgery on Oct. 17. He returned to practice on Nov. 24 and played his first game on Dec. 2.
"Sometimes you get somebody who comes back in a month and they do fine," Dr. Raikin said. "I've had patients who have done that. My inclination is typically to get people to wait six weeks, particularly in a sport like basketball or soccer, where there's lots of cutting, which puts lots of pressure on the bone. My feeling is a month was probably too short, and I guess history has proven me correct, though like I said some return in one month and are fine."
Durant, the league's reigning MVP, was limited to 27 games this season due to foot and ankle injuries. He has not played since his surgery in February. The 26-year-old returned to practice earlier this month, but increased soreness caused the Thunder to halt his basketball activities.
"The thing people have to remember, this fracture he had is called a Jones fracture," Dr. Raikin said. "Fractures that have people's names on it generally have people's names on it because it's a bad fracture. It's a problematic injury that is very common in athletes that have to do a lot of cutting activities. It's just a tough fracture. "