September 6, 2014, 6:45 pm
Danilo Gallinari regrets going to Steadman Clinic in Vail for 1st knee procedure
Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari injured his left anterior cruciate ligament in a game in April of 2013, just before Denver was to start the playoffs. At the time, it was clear that Gallinari’s season was over, and it was just a question of when he would return for the following season — at the start or shortly after.
But few anticipated him missing the entire 2014 season and requiring a second knee surgery in January of 2014.
Now, nearly a year and a half since undergoing his first procedure — a two-part job by The Steadman Clinic of Vail to repair his meniscus and then his ACL — Galliari has told Sportando.com that he made “the wrong choice” by going to the clinic in the first place.
I will need to be patient because after more than a year without basketball you have to work also on the mental aspect. But I want to be a better player than before the injury” said Gallinari. “Steadman? It is clear that if I could go back, I would not go to Steadman Clinic. I will write a book on my last year and half with some things never told. But it is better not to talk about that. I just say that one month after my surgery, Steadman said that he would not work anymore.
“I made a wrong choice but he was considered one of the best surgeons and his clinic was within a hour’s drive from Denver. Now I see what happened to Giuseppe Rossi, Westbrook, Vonn and many other maybe not famous that went to his Clinic.”
Gallinari underwent a “healing response,” a technique developed by Dr. Richard Steadman to repair, not reconstruct, the ligament in his knee, since his ACL was said to be not fully torn. The arthroscopic procedure, which entails “making three to 10 small ‘microfracture’ holes in the bone at the femoral origin of the injured ACL,” was said to result in a much shorter recovery period, because it is less invasive than a full reconstruction surgery. Essentially, the body treats the small holes as injuries, and blood and bone marrow permeate the fractures to create a blood clot, helping to reattach the injured part of the ACL back to the bone.
The Steadman Clinic’s 2002 annual report described the successful recovery of Olympic skier Bode Miller from the same surgery:
“Three weeks following his surgery, Bode was fully mobile and without need of a brace,” the report read. “Dr. Steadman suggested waiting another three weeks to determine whether the healing response would take. When the three weeks were up, the news was even more encouraging. “My ACL,” said Bode, “was regrowing entirely on its own.”
The clinic’s report did not mention, however, that Miller required another surgery in November of 2002 to remove loose cartilage pieces in the knee. That procedure was also performed by Dr. Steadman.
In June of 2013, shortly after undergoing the procedure on his ACL, Gallinari believed that he would return to the floor sooner than originally expected. But that clearly did not happen, and in January of 2014 he had surgery to reconstruct the ligament.
This past June, Gallinari told The Post’s Christopher Dempsey that he was finally on track to return for the start of training camp.
Gallinari’s comments about The Steadman Clinic are pretty damning, given his profile and his lengthy recovery. As Gallinari noted, Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook also went to The Steadman Clinic to have his torn right meniscus repaired in April of 2013, after he collided with Houston’s Patrick Beverley in during a first-round playoff game. Westbrook underwent another surgery in October of 2013 to repair a loose stitch, and then a third operation in December to address excessive swelling.
Fiorentina forward Giuseppe Rossi is said to be facing another five months on the sideline after undergoing another surgery on his right knee. Rossi underwent surgery to repair his injured right ACL in October of 2011. On Friday, Rossi underwent his fourth knee surgery, performed by Dr. Steadman.
Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn underwent multiple procedures by Dr. William Sterrett, formerly of The Steadman Clinic, to repair ligaments in her knees re-injuries to those ligaments. Sterrett was fired by The Steadman Clinic in 2011 and later sued the company. Vonn reportedly switched surgeons and had her latest operation, an ACL repair in January of this year, performed by the renowned Dr. James Andrews, in Florida.
It is worth noting that neither Vonn nor Rossi have directly claimed to have had issues with The Steadman Clinic’s work.
According to the clinic’s website, Dr. Steadman — whose list of clients “include 26 athletes from professional soccer, 45 from the NFL, 23 from the MLB, 8 in the NBA and 26 snow skiers” — retired from surgical practice at the end of January of this year.