Louisville’s Kevin Ware’s Terrible Leg Injury

It was the crack heard around the country.

One minute, Louisville Cardinals sophomore Kevin Ware is running down the court, the next, he’s lying on the ground with his right lower leg folded at a 90 degree angle with the bone sticking out.

Players, coaches, and fans all reacted in horror- some players collapsing on the court, others crying. The game was stopped for 7 minutes so that medics could attend to Kevin.

Despite his severe injury,  Coach Rick Pitino said that something else was on Kevin mind:

The bone’s 6 inches out of his leg and all he’s yelling is, ‘Win the game, win the game,’ “I’ve not seen that in my life. … Pretty special young man.

After regaining its composure, Louisville did go on to win the game, beating Duke 85-63 to advance them to the Final Four.

Ware was taken to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, where he underwent surgery to repair the fracture. The right tibia was reset and a rod was inserted into the bone to stabilize it. After his surgery, Coach Pitino brought the trophy to Kevin’s bed for him to hold.

No timetable has been set for Ware’s recovery, but he hopes to be able to root his teammates on at the Final Four game in Atlanta, which happens to be his home town.

A fracture is a break in a bone, but there are several different types of fractures:


  • Greenstick – fracture in a young, soft bone in which the bone bends and partially breaks.
  • Spiral – a fracture which runs around the axis of the bone
  • Comminuted – a fracture of many relatively small fragments
  • Transverse – a fracture where the line of break forms a right angle with the axis of the bone.
  • Compound – a fracture (also called open) which breaks the skin.
  • Compression – a collapse of a vertebra.

Symptoms of a fracture are:

  • Out-of-place or misshapen limb or joint
  • Swelling, bruising or bleeding
  • Intense pain
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Limited mobility or inability to move a limb

Compound or Open Fracture

open fractureCompound, or open fractures is a fracture where the broken bone fragment pierces the skin.  Open fractures are caused by direct high-energy trauma such as from a fall or motor vehicle collision or indirectly, by a high-energy twisting type of injury.

Because the injury is more severe, there may be  damage to surrounding tissues, such as muscles, tendons, nerves, blood vessels and skin. This can lead to additional complications and will take longer to heal than other fractures.

The opening in the skin can expose the underlying bone and soft tissue to debris from the outside. This might include glass, leaves, metal, cloth, or any other material present at the accident scene.

Open fractures are, therefore, much more likely to become infected. When repairing an open fracture, surgeons must meticulously clean out the wound to eliminate any foreign material and remove any dead tissue. Intravenous and/or oral antibiotics are also given to decrease infection.

rod in bone

Internal rod fixation

The bone must be stabilized, either with the insertion of a rod into the bone, or with external fixation brackets:

External fixation










We wish this brave young man a speedy recovery!

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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