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Crabtree update: Surgical success rate high

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

INDIANAPOLIS -- Michael Crabtree's recently discovered foot injury does not appear serious enough to dissuade teams from strongly considering him early in the draft.

That is my thinking, based on what we know about the injury. The injury was minor enough to elude detection until NFL doctors administered exhaustive tests at the combine.

Crabtree does indeed have a "Jones fracture" in his left foot, as suspected. What does this mean? History tells us the injury will likely heal without complication.

Specifically, 41 of 46 combine participants who underwent similar procedures between 1988 and 2002 healed without complication. Three developed a nonunion. The success rate for NFL players was 94 percent (16 of 17) between 1996 and 2001.

This information is readily available through the National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI):

Between 1988 and 2002, 4,758 elite collegiate football players participated in the NFL Combine. All athletes were evaluated clinically and radiographically. There were 86 Jones fractures identified in 83 athletes (incidence of 1.8 percent).

Fifty-three percent (46 of 86) of the fractures were treated surgically. Eighty-nine percent (41 of 46) healed without complications and 7 percent (3 of 46) developed a nonunion. Twenty percent (8 of 40) of the fractures treated nonoperatively developed a nonunion while 80 percent (32 of 40) healed.

The NFL injury surveillance system was also studied and revealed 17 Jones fractures occurred during the seasons 1996-2001. All of these fractures were treated with intramedullary screw fixation. The union rate was 94 percent (16 of 17 fractures).

A questionnaire was also sent to all NFL team physicians regarding their experience with these fractures. The consensus was that this is not a common injury, but when it occurs, surgical treatment is recommended (77 percent) over nonsurgical treatment (23 percent). After reviewing the data, it was found that intramedullary screw fixation of Jones fractures is the treatment of choice for most physicians who treat elite collegiate and professional football athletes.

Crabtree said he plans to run a 40-yard dash for NFL scouts before undergoing surgery. That would suggest the injury is minor.