Surgeon: Brady's team handled infection

LAS VEGAS -- Tom Brady's chances are good for a full recovery from last September's knee injury, noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews said Wednesday.

Andrews, a Birmingham, Ala.-based orthopedist for elite athletes, said Brady's doctors were aggressive in finding and treating the infection after his operation. Andrews added that preventing infection in the Patriots quarterback's knee was nearly impossible, no matter how good the doctors are.

"He had excellent care, and he had an aggressive approach early on with early recognition to be able to control the infection, and therefore he's gotten through it," Andrews said. "They didn't sit on it and wait on it, hide with their head in the sand. They went after it immediately."

Brady was injured in New England's 2008 season opener and underwent knee surgery to repair torn ligaments in October. He has not given a timetable for his return to the field.

Andrews said Brady's doctors washed out the quarterback's knee several times to get rid of the infection and were able to save the graft that replaced his torn ligaments.

Andrews was in Las Vegas as part of a medical panel that said doctors are seeing more children -- especially girls -- suffer knee injuries as they playing sports without enough time off. The doctors met during an annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Doctors said more than 200,000 anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgeries are performed each year in the United States. Athletes with torn ligaments need the surgery and rehabilitation to use their legs for high-level activities like pivoting, twisting and cutting.

Andrews has performed surgery on hundreds of high-profile athletes. He said even surgeons themselves often overestimate their success in getting athletes of all levels back to performing as they did before they were injured. Andrews most recently performed season-ending shoulder surgery on Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson.

Andrews said that of 58 professional football, hockey and basketball players he performed ACL surgery on from 2001-2006, 37 returned to play -- 64 percent.

While doctors might be better than ever, they shouldn't make athletes, their families and teams believe they will see miracle recoveries from serious injuries, Andrews said.

"You've got to realize that orthopedic surgeons are optimistic by the nature of the problems we deal with," Andrews said. "When you listen to your orthopedic surgeon and he tells you you're going to be well in a certain period of time, you best triple that and you'll be closer to reality."