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Doc: If Kendall Marshall injury 'displaced fracture,' will require surgery

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer
GREENSBORO, NC -- Kendall Marshall suffered a fracture of his scaphoid bone against Creighton on Sunday night during the NCAA's Round of 32 in Greensboro, overshadowing most of the good feelings North Carolina had about their victory.

And as I noted earlier, UNC isn't providing any update. But I spoke to Dr. Mark Warburton, a renowned orthopedic surgeon at High Point Orthopedic and Sports Medicine in High Point, North Carolina about what the fracture means.

Dr. Warburton explained that the scaphoid bone is the "most commonly fractured" wristbone because it spans the two rows of bones (eight total) in the wrist.

There are two types of fractures to the scaphoid bone: either the fracture is "in place" or "displaced" and that will decide whether or not Marshall needs surgery.

If the fracture is in place, Dr. Warburton said, surgery isn't necessarily a requirement. But if Marshall's injury is a "displaced fracture" (read: the bone isn't lined up), there's no realistic way for him to avoid surgery.

"If it's out of place, there is no way to set the bone like you would set and arm or a leg," Dr. Warburton explained. "So the only thing you can do is do surgery and today what is done is you basically through small incisions you can set the bone and put a pin in it."

While Marshall and North Carolina would clearly like to avoid surgery, a displaced fracture will eliminate that choice, provided that Marshall's long-term health is the No. 1 priority.

"If the bone is out of position at the time of injury then you have to operate on it," Dr. Warburton explained. "Otherwise it will heal in the wrong position."

Should the x-rays reveal that Marshall's fracture is "in place," he could simply have a cast put on and let it heal naturally.

"If the bone is not out of position, that gets to be a little bit more of a grey area" Dr. Warburton said. "If it's not out of position you can put it in a cast and keep it in a cast for six or eight weeks until it does heal.

"The problem there is, sometimes it doesn't heal and you have to end up operating on it."

So what does this mean for Marshall's future? And is it possible that he can play? If the bone is not displaced, Marshall could play through the pain in a cast and begin the healing process.

But if Marshall suffered a displaced fracture, continuing to play in the NCAA Tournament could cause further damage, and Dr. Warburton said he would not recommend playing basketball less than a week after suffering the injury.

"I can't imagine that if a hand surgeon saw an individual of that caliber with the potential he has for professional sports that you would ever recommend [playing next week]," Dr. Warburton said. "And I can't imagine that the coaches would recommend that either."
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