A Bruise or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

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On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Friday, November 30, 2012

A star basketball player developed a painful swelling in his arm, eventually causing his arm to swell to two or three times normal size. At that point, he knew something was wrong but he didn’t know what it was. And at first, neither did his doctors.

They first diagnosed it as a bruise. But it was no bruise; that was a misdiagnosis. Fortunately for him, his doctors finally diagnosed it correctly, as it was a blood clot in his arm, but it was caused by another dangerous condition.

According to a story in on STLhighschoolsports.com, he had broken a rib at some time earlier, but never knew it. When the rib healed, it was crooked and grew into a vein. The medical condition is identified as thoracic outlet syndrome.

This is a potentially dangerous condition, because if untreated, it can result in permanent nerve damage. The surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic, “involves dividing a muscle in the neck and removing a portion of the first rib or repairing the brachial plexus nerves.”

Because of the risk, surgery is dangerous, and doctors often attempt a more conservative approach of physical therapy, but in cases like that of the basketball play, surgery was necessary. The complexity of the surgery was such that it took nine-hours.

He was fortunate that doctors eventually recognized the condition and that they were able to successfully treat it. He appears to be recovering well and has signed a letter of intent to play at Illinois.

A condition like thoracic outlet syndrome is dangerous because it can easily be misdiagnosed and can lead to long-lasting damage if it is not recognized and left untreated.

Source: STLhighschoolsports.com, “After severe injury, Belleville East standout Hill on road to recovery,” Nate Latsch, November 29, 2012


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