Doctors clarify Roethlisberger's surgery

Doctors at Mercy Hospital held their Wednesday press briefing. It was the most detailed press briefing to date concerning Ben Roethlisberger's surgery and recovery. No questions were taken. Another briefing will be held Thursday.

Dr. Larry Jones, chief of trauma at Mercy Hospital, on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger:

"Since our last briefing at four o'clock yesterday afternoon, as is standard practice for all of our trauma patients who've suffered any type of head injury, we performed a repeat follow-up C.T. scan of the brain. The results of this second and final scan, in combination with our ongoing observations, confirm our previous findings that Mr. Roethlisberger has suffered no brain injury. Mr. Roethlisberger has been up and out of bed. His family remains at his bedside. We have advanced his diet. He does remain in fair condition here at Mercy Hospital. At this point I'm going to ask Dr. Pituch to discuss the surgery that he performed."

Dr. Daniel Pituch, Chief, Division of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery:

"Thank you. Good afternoon. I was directly involved in Mr. Roethlisberger's surgery on Monday. There has been much speculation about the nature of the management of Mr. Roethlisberger's fractures. I would like to take this opportunity to clarify what was done.

"In many cases, facial fractures can be managed by wiring the jaw shut. Let me clarify that Mr. Roethlisberger's jaws and teeth are not wired shut. Again, they are not wired shut. An alternative and modern form of facial-fracture treatment is open reduction and internal fixation. Internal-fixation technology involves the placement of small titanium plates and screws onto the surface of broken bones. It is the same technology that can be used to treat fractures and other bones of the body, such as the ankles and wrists. This technology can also be used when treating facial fractures. As a Level 1 Regional Resoruce Trauma Center, Mercy Hospital is able to provide this advanced technology and level of care for its trauma patients who sustain facial fractures. In order to treat Mr. Roethlisberger's fractures, we used this advanced technology. This entailed reducing the fractures of putting the bones back into place. I will illustrate what these devices look like on this dry skull.

"When a bone is broken, the reduction process allows us to bring the bones together. The titanium plates are then carefully bent to match the contours of the face. For example, if the lower jaw is cracked, we bring the bones back together, we take a titanium plate, such as this one, bend it and adapt it to the contours of the face, facial bones, and then we secure it in place with screws. A drill that's installed in an electric handpiece allows us to drill holes into the bone and then, once the holes are drilled, screws are able to be put into the bones in this fashion. So this is an example of the screw and the screwdriver used in Mr. Roethlisberger's surgery. Once I have the bone reduced or put back together the way it needed to be, I kept it in that place by placing these screws in there. Additional plates were also incorporated. They're smaller and lower profile for some of the lighter bones, and other thin plates were used in the midface to stabilize these bones. And then the other screws are smaller and correspond to the plates.

"This type of state-of-the-art technology allowed us to successfully treat Mr. Roethlisberger's facial fractures. Because of this technology, and the level of care available at Mercy Hospital, Mr. Roethlisberger is now eating a soft diet. He will not have to be on a liquid diet or suffer the nutritional consequences of such a diet. In addition, this technology allows us to have a more predictable outcome and usually does not require any additional major reconstructive procedures. Thank you for the opportunity to clarify this information."

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