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76ers’ Croce Will Have Leg Surgery

October 12, 1999

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Philadelphia 76ers president Pat Croce will undergo surgery on his severely broken left leg, which has shown no signs of bone growth, his doctor said Monday.

``Today’s X-rays show really no significant sign of bone healing,″ said Dr. William DeLong, Head of Trauma at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), who will perform the procedures Tuesday morning.

``Most fractures such as this require more than the initial surgery,″ he said.

Croce has a metal rod in the middle of his leg with some screws at the top and bottom holding it in place. Doctors plan to remove the screw from the top part to allow the bone to slide down, then inject bone marrow and possibly some protein into the fracture to stimulate the healing process.

``Pat has some pain when he walks now, which means he doesn’t have stability in the leg,″ DeLong said. ``There could be additional pain when we do this, but that pressure is one of the things that can increase bone growth. It may help us.″

On June 17, the 44-year-old Croce was injured in a motorcycle accident on a wet New Jersey road, shattering his leg in 10 places. He was admitted to HUP, where three procedures were performed, including a skin graft taking tissue from his shoulder blade and applying it over the wound.

While the skin graft has taken well and Croce has strengthened the muscles in his leg to the point he can now walk with the aid of crutches, the fact the bone itself has not grown is cause for alarm.

``Pat’s injury was very bad and it happened in the worst spot on the leg,″ DeLong said. ``We are fortunate at this point there is sign of infection. His superior conditioning can only help him. I probably have never had a specimen to work on like Pat Croce.″

Doctors expect to know in two to four weeks whether the procedure is working, and there are several options to consider if it fails. ``But, it’s hard for us to put a clock on him,″ DeLong said.

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