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July 30, 2013 at 8:03 PM

Harvin surgery a little bit of a trip into the unknown

Within seconds of Percy Harvin’s Tweet this afternoon that he will have surgery on his ailing hip came even more Tweets touting various timelines for his recovery.

In general, they reported that Harvin is likely out 3-4 months. That seems the safest bet given what is known of the injury.

Dr. William Long, who is an orthopedic surgeon and medical director of Orthopaedic Computer Surgery Institute at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, though, said it’s important to realize that there are still a few unknowns about Harvin’s situation (it is thought he has a torn labrum in his hip).

For one, Long (who also happens to be the father of former University of Washington defensive back Adam Long) said arthroscopic hip surgery of the sort it is expected Harvin will have is relatively new.

“The one thing about labral tears  is there haven’t been that many diagnosed in the past because now we have MRIs,” he said. “It’s just come into its own (in recent years). That’s why it’s harder for doctors to predict the outcome because it hasn’t been around as long as arthroscopy of the knee.”

Long also noted that, as is the case with many surgeries, doctors may find more or different damage once they do the surgery.

“The first thing is, we don’t know for sure know what he has, what structure of injury, because that’s really the key,” he said. “Something is hurting is hurting him and they probably have an MRI that shows what it is, but you can think of the surgery as the best diagnostic tool. They are going to go in there and see if it’s just a torn labrum. They will be able to look at the cartilage and all around the hip so that after the operation it will be easier to predict his return.”

Long said that it if is indeed a torn labrum, they may be able to just trim a torn piece away with a scope. Long called that the “best-case scenario” and that Harvin could be back in 2-3 months.

If doctors “have to sew something together and wait for it to heal,” Long said, then it could be a “longer wait” and could  be 3-4 months.

Long also said a worst-case scenario would be if signs of an arthritic hip were discovered. But Long said that would be unlikely given what appears to be known about the injury.

Long also said it’s possible that damage to the cartilage could be discovered “or a tear that they didn’t expect. That would be something ominous. But we don’t know right now.”

As for any worries that the injury could permanently alter Harvin’s career, Long said he didn’t think that was a real concern.

“At this time it’s much too early to expect the worst,” he said.

The surgery will be performed by Bryan Kelly, who as this recent Wall Street Journal story reports, has a history of helping athletes recover from hip injuries.

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