Ever since his crash at Motegi, caused by a sticking throttle, Dani Pedrosa has been plagued with a mysterious shoulder problem, causing numbness and weakness in his left arm. The Repsol Honda star had been hoping that the problem would pass over the winter, with rest over the enforced winter break allowing his shoulder to heal. That was not to be the case, however, as the issue resurfaced during the first race of 2011 at Qatar, Pedrosa getting off his bike after the race obviously in extreme discomfort.
Since then, multiple tests have been done to try and locate the cause of this problem, with the brachial plexus - the bundle of nerves controlling the arm, sitting directly under the collarbone - as the prime suspect, but tests carried out last week finally nailed down the cause. The screws holding down the plate inserted to fixate Pedrosa's collarbone were found to be blocking the subclavian artery - the artery that feeds all of the blood into Pedrosa's left arm - when he held his arm in specific positions.
Yesterday, Pedrosa underwent surgery to remove that plate, as well as clean up some excess scar tissue that had accumulated around the artery. During surgery, tests were carried out to ensure that the blood flow was once again normal, before the surgery was completed. Pedrosa will now remain in hospital for the next two days, before being sent home to recover further.
With tests confirming the return of full blood flow to Pedrosa's arm, the surgery may be judged a success. The only concern Pedrosa has is that the removal of the screws leave his collarbone weakened, the bone taking 4-6 weeks to heal over completely. What's more, the plate fitted is designed to support the collarbone for 12 months, and having it removed after just 6 months may leave Pedrosa's collarbone not quite at 100%. For these reasons, Pedrosa's participation in the Estoril Grand Prix is still not completely certain, though the chances of him missing the race are slim. Pedrosa will undergo medical tests to assess his recovery next week, and a decision will be made then.
The full text of the official Repsol Honda press release is shown below:
Dani Pedrosa undergoes successful operation
Dani Pedrosa has undergone successful surgery at Teknon Medical Centre, in Barcelona, to decompress his left subclavian artery and is expected to recover satisfactorily. The intervention was performed by Dr. César García-Madrid, vascular surgeon, and Dr. Joaquim Casañas, trauma and orthopaedic surgeon, both specialists at Teknon.
In order to release the arterial compression, the titanium plate and the screws fixed to the collarbone have been removed. The subclavian artery has also been separated from the fibrotic tissues that surrounded costoclavicular space. At the same time, intraoperative angiography by minimally invasive transfemoral approach confirmed the return of the subclavian flow.
The medical checks performed last week at Institut Vascular Sala Planell, including several physical tests and four dimensional CT with contrast in specific positions, confirmed that the symptoms of pain, numbness and lack of strength in Dani's left arm were due to compression of the subclavian artery secondary to the collarbone fracture.
Dani Pedrosa, will remain in hospital for a further 48 hours to continue treatment with analgesia and anti-inflammatories. Next week he will visit the doctors again to determine his rehabilitation, in order to participate in the Grand Prix of Portugal, to be held in Estoril on May 1st.