The road to recovery for Steven Stamkos
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos underwent a successful two-hour surgery at Tampa General Hospital today to remove a blood clot from his right collarbone area.
And the key whether Stamkos' recovery period takes one month or three month depends largely on how an ultrasound looks in two weeks, surgeon Dr. Karl Illig said.
The procedure includes removing a top rib, which alleviates a "nutcracker" effect in the collarbone area, where a vein is squeezed. The condition is called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy suffered from earlier this season.
Illig said a typical course of action is rest/recovery for 2-4 weeks and then 1-2 month rehab period. But like Vasilevskiy, who was back on the ice skating (with no contact or shots) in 10-14 days after surgery, Stamkos could be in the same boat.
Patients need to be on blood thinners for 1-3 months after surgery, but how Stamkos' ultrasound looks could determine if he needs to be on them for less time. That would be huge in terms of Stamkos potentially returning to the Lightning in May vs June, or not at all. The playoffs begin a week from Wednesday.
"It'll be symptom status, how the patient is feeling, and ultra sound," Illig said. "One extreme is the patient feeling incredibly well and he has no problem whatsoever, and ultra sound is crystal clear. That would be something we'd lean for shorter time frame."
Illig said this syndrome is more commonly found among baseball pitchers and tennis players, who use an arm over the the shoulder motion. Illig added that four players in the major leagues have had this surgery. But Illig had never seen this type of clot in hockey players until this season, and both are stunningly with the Lightning.
"I think this was nothing that the Lightning are doing or the players are doing," Illig said. "This is a very, very, very odd and interesting coincidence."
Illig said the fact Vasilevskiy already had this condition, undergoing surgery in September before returning to an NHL game two months later, helped the Lightning identify the issue and give Stamkos the best treatment.
"I want to say it's a problem for the Lightning because they're hoisting the Stanley Cup," Illig joked. "I want them to have that risk."