INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The gruesome injury college basketball fans watched live on television Sunday may have been horrifying to see, but doctors say the injury itself isn't uncommon.
Dr. Walter Virkus, director of Orthopedic Trauma at Methodist Hospital, said they treat fractured tibias every week - mostly from car accidents or bad falls.
Louisville guard Kevin Ware landed awkwardly, with his leg bending at almost a right angle , after he contested a 3-point shot late in the first half of the NCAA Midwest regional final between the Cardinals and Duke.
Virkus called tibia factures "exceedingly common."
"Just catching them on live TV is a little unusual," said Virkus, who added the injury happens more often among athletes on the football field than the basketball court.
Virkus also said it's not uncommon for the bone to protrude out of the skin – as it did in Ware's case.
"The tibia has very little covering in the front of the bone so it's certainly not uncommon if there's a significant injury that the tibia comes out of the skin," Virkus said.
Ware was recovering Monday following successful surgery on his broken right leg.
School officials say the sophomore had the bone reset and a rod inserted into his right tibia. The surgery took two hours. Ware is expected to stay in Indianapolis until at least Tuesday.
"Surgery for open tibias in general involves a clean-out process to clean out the wound, make sure anything – dirt, gravel, anything else that got into the wound – is cleaned out aggressively, and then fix the bone," he said.
Virkus said the recovery process for a fractured tibia varies between three and 10 months.
Asked whether athletes can go on to have a full recovery and successful career after a fractured tibia, Virkus said it's "certainly within the realm of possibility."
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