Doctor explains what Colts' Andrew Luck is dealing with in kidney injury

Quarterback says he's feeling better every day and has thrown twice in past week in his rehabilitation from a kidney laceration.

In a fourth NFL season full of the unexpected, Andrew Luck is in the unusual position of waiting on test results to prove he’s healthy.

The Indianapolis Colts quarterback has thrown a football a couple of times in the past week, “a fair, intense amount,” as his gradual rehabilitation of a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle continues. Unlike if a muscle or bone is an issue, he has no way of knowing how the kidney is progressing until he’s tested.

“A scan will let you know when it’s healed,” the three-time Pro Bowl passer said Wednesday.

Asked later what a lacerated kidney feels like, Luck said with an amused chuckle, “Uncomfortable, I guess.”

So what is the nature of this injury?

S. Adam Ramin, M.D., a urologic surgeon at Urology Cancer Specialists in L.A., (on Twitter @UrologicCancer) was recently submitted questions via email by Trace Longo of Longo Communications for ColtsBlitz.com.

What is the immediate treatment once a lacerated kidney is suspected?

“Suspicion of kidney laceration is based on the mechanism of injury, symptoms, signs and diagnostic imaging.

“Mechanism: If a person has sustained a blunt (like a hit or punch) or penetrating (like a knife, bullet) injury to the lower chest, upper abdomen or flank area, we suspect injury to the kidney.

“Symptom: Severe pain in the upper abdomen or flank area, loss of consciousness, and nausea may be due to injury to the kidney.

“Signs: Laceration of kidney may cause severe internal bleeding. Therefore signs of kidney laceration are blood in the urine, low blood pressure, abdominal distention, bruising along the flank area. 

“Diagnostic imaging: CT Scan or MRI of abdomen will show the presence or absence, and will show severity or degree of injury to the kidney. The more severe the laceration, the more complex will be the care of the patient. Small lacerations generally are treated with observation and bed rest. Larger, more complex lacerations may need blood transfusion, emergency reparative surgery or removal of the kidney.”

What can be done medically to make sure the patient is ready to return?

“In most instances, surgery is not required for kidney laceration. Bed rest and avoiding strenuous activity will allow proper healing of the kidney laceration. Supportive care like antibiotics for possible infection and intravenous fluids for dehydration, will help in recovery of the kidney.”

If he can return: Luck also has a torn abdominal muscle. This seems to be an odd combination with the kidney laceration. Is this common or even unrelated?

“Kidney lacerations are usually associated with other injuries to the body. The mechanism of injury that leads to a kidney laceration also damages other structures and organs surrounding the kidney. The kidney is located deep to many layers of abdominal and back muscles. Any impact strong enough to reach and damage the kidney, will also cause severe harm to structures in its path to reach this deeply embedded organ.”

Head coach Chuck Pagano still classifies Luck as “week-to-week,” which means he’s not yet ready to practice. The Colts estimated his initial recovery timetable at two to six weeks. It’s now three weeks and counting.

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