NEWS
Saturday October 3 2015
Surgeon: 'One month for Lichtsteiner'

The Professor who performed heart surgery on Juventus defender Stephan Lichtsteiner insists he should only be out for a month.

The Swiss international had an operation to correct a cardiac arrhythmia after he suffered breathing difficulties during the 1-1 draw with Frosinone on September 23.

“The procedure lasted less than an hour and the player is doing very well,” Professor Fiorenzo Gaita told Juventus.com.

“The atrial flutter is an arrhythmia of the atria, which to make a car comparison are like the petrol tanks of the heart. These have a sort of electric circuitry that, in case of a flutter, make the heartbeats per minute jump from a normal 60 up to 300.

“Now, not all these beats reach the ‘motor’ because Mother Nature put in a ‘filter,’ called an atrioventricular node, that limits the passage to around half or a third, so to 75 or 150.

“In case of stress or notable physical exertion, all of those impulses can go through. In these cases, with 300 beats per minute, you can feel unwell or struggle to breathe, which is what happened to the player.

“Surgery isn’t always necessary, but the other option is to take medication for your entire life and that doesn’t resolve the problem, it just tries to prevent it, and works only in 60 per cent of cases.

“The other possibility is surgery, which we’ve been doing since 1992. It is an ablation trans catheter: a catheter is introduced in a leg vein and goes up to the heart. It registers the atrial flutter and burns a small spot. It’s a normal procedure that is usually the first choice for sporting patients.”

A cardiologist told reporters that Lichtsteiner would be out of action for six months, but Professor Gaita insisted that was not the case.

“In 30 days he will recover fully, then more tests will be performed and at that point he can be given the all-clear to play again.

“This timing is dictated by the Medicine of Sport guidelines although naturally they vary depending on the type of arrhythmia.

“In the case of a flutter, the rule is a month out for recovery.”

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