Three Things to Know About Kyrie Irving's Knee Injury

April 6, 2018

Kyrie Irving to Miss NBA Playoffs

Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving will require surgery on his knee and will miss the remainder of the regular season and the NBA playoffs. In 2015, Irving fractured his patella and had screws and a tension wire surgically inserted to stabilize the injury.  On March 24th, Irving had a procedure to remove the tension wire at which time there was a bacterial infection discovered near the remaining screws. The NBA All-Star will undergo another procedure to remove the screws and the bacterial infection. '

Dr. Brian Cole, head team doctor the Chicago Bulls, answered three basic questions regarding Kyrie Irving's knee injury and surgical procedures.

1. What is a tension wire? How is it used following a fractured patella surgery?

There are many techniques used to fix patella (knee cap) fractures. A tension band technique is based upon a basic orthopedic surgical principle whereby a wire is configured around and across the patella such that it holds the fractured fragments in place and actually compresses the fragments together during knee flexion encouraging more predictable fracture healing.


2. Why is the tension wire removed?

Surgical removal is sometimes required because the wire can, after the fracture is healed, become painful.  It can be safely removed once the fracture is completely healed and generally no sooner than 4 to 6 months.

3. What is the time table to return from this procedure?

Athletes may take 8-12 weeks or more to get back to their pre-surgical level of play following removal of a tension wire.

Dr. Brian Cole is the head team physician for the Chicago Bulls (NBA), co-team physician for the Chicago White Sox (MLB) and DePaul University in Chicago. Dr. Cole is a Professor in the Department of Orthopedics with a conjoint appointment in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. He is the Section Head of the Cartilage Research and Restoration Center at Rush specializing in the treatment of arthritis in young active patients with a focus on regenerative medicine and biologic alternatives to surgery.