Dr. Flynn: Examining the possibilities and recovery timelines for Kyrie Irving’s knee procedure

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Erik Williams/USA Today Sports

Kyrie Irving is having a “minimally invasive procedure” on his left knee to “alleviate irritation.”

I know this is a given, but I have to remind everyone that I have never examined Kyrie Irving’s knee, do not know what type of hardware was used for his surgery, or what his current symptoms are except for what has been reported as “discomfort.” Given my experience treating athletes with similar injuries, here are some possibilities for what type of procedure he may be having:

1. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection: An athlete’s blood is spun in a centrifuge so that growth factors and platelets can be extracted. This concentrated solution of healing agents is injected into areas of inflamed tissue, in this case possibly the patellar tendon, in hopes of stimulating a healing response. This option is a bit further down my list of possibilities, but it can certainly be an option. Return to play after a procedure like this would be a minimum of two weeks.

2. Removal of hardware: This can be considered a “minimally invasive procedure.” If there is a particular area of hardware (usually wire) that is irritating the knee, that wire can be removed. RTP after a minimally invasive procedure like that could be 2-3 weeks. However, if Irving has cannulated screws as part of his patellar ORIF construct, the recovery after removal is not minimal at all. Because of the size of the holes left by the screws and the risk of fracturing the patella while those holes heal up, RTP is a minimum of six weeks.

3. Knee arthroscopy (“scope”): Tiny incisions are made in the skin and a camera and tools are inserted into the knee joint. This can be done to assess any arthritis or damage to the patellar cartilage and to debride, or remove, any scar tissue that may be irritating the joint.

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