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Did Kevin Durant Put More on The Operating Table Than Just His NBA Career?

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KD's use of Medtronic Infuse Bone-Graft could be controversial.

He's Back!
He's Back!
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The anticipated return of 2014 MVP Kevin Durant from surgery performed on his left foot in late March has Thunder chat rooms and discussion forums buzzing. Video footage of Durant participating in drills at Team USA's basketball mini-camp this week and comments from the 6-time NBA All-Star show he should be ready to start the 2015-16 season at almost 100 percent.

According to KD's doctor's, the basic evidence show that the fifth metatarsal in his left foot has "healed" enough to clear him to play. Although another break is not a big concern, the treated area will continue mending for over a year and Durant told Bleacher Reports senior NBA writer Kevin Ding that he will have to ease back into his normal routine:

"I can't do too much no more. I love putting in work; I love being out on the court. But early on, I have to ease back into that part of it—two-a-days or working out after practice or working out when I land in a city or whatever I used to do. I've got to ease into it, and as time goes on, just get back into my routine."

For those just returning from interstellar travels, Durant had a screw inserted into the injured bone after being diagnosed with a Jones fracture last October. When Durant complained of discomfort, his doctor discovered the head of the original screw was rubbing against the cuboid bone and replaced it. Unfortunately both surgeries failed to meet the desired results and Durant underwent a third and "controversial" bone-graft procedure in March.

Durant confirmed that the bone "had a crack in it" and a link on Ding's post indicates that his surgeon attached a Medtronic Infuse Bone-Graft to widen and eventually strengthen the damaged area. Infuse combines a recombinant human Bone Morphogenetic Protein (rhBMP), a genetically engineered version of a protein naturally released by the body, with a cow collagen that initiates bone growth in a specific area and was initially approved by the FDA for bone fusion in the lumbar or lower back. Use of Infuse in Durant's case is not FDA approved and considered off-label.

The FDA issued a warning in July of 2008 citing about 200 adverse events of serious complications after off-label use of Infuse in the cervical area of the spine. In June of  2011, the US Senate Finance Committee launched an investigation into allegations that surgeons working as paid consultants for Medtronics failed to properly report complications linked with the product in clinical trials. Read more about the results of that investigation here.

This report at drugwatch.com goes into more details about the Infuse Bone-Graft and lists these possible complications:

  1. Inflammatory reactions
  2. Back and leg pain
  3. Radiculitis  (pain that spreads through the spinal nerves)
  4. Implant displacement
  5. Retrograde ejaculation (occurs when semen enters the bladder)
  6. Male sterility
  7. CANCER (see this article in Wikipedia on BMP's)
  8. Infection
  9. Osteolysis (degeneration of bone tissue)
  10. Ectopic bone formation (unwanted bone in the spinal canal)
  11. Death

Although I found no information about the use of this product on a Jones fracture, one could say that "controversial" may be an understatement when a simple Google search for "Infuse Lawsuits" produces about 182,000 results.