Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorThe Broncos announced that John Fox underwent a procedure this morning to replace a malfunctioning aortic valve.

Not a lot of detail available, but it sounds like things went smoothly.

After a valve replacement, it’s typical for a patient to remain in a critical cardiac care unit for 2-3 days, then be transferred out to a non-intensive care unit or room for several additional days . The average time from surgery to discharge is 7 days.

How about a return to work? Impossible to say without knowing how the valve was replaced or whether any other procedures were done while in surgery. And.. how the procedure was done.

What this means is that doctors may have done a “minimally invasive” surgery, which you can think of as sort of an arthroscope of the heart (instead of the knee). Small incisions and use of scopes and sometimes, robotic tools.

On the other hand, they instead may have had to perform an open procedure, which means cutting open the chest wall and spreading the ribs to get to the heart. That one obviously is tougher on the patient.

So — timeframes for return to work: best case is 4 weeks. That’s generally for a person who sits at a desk counting paper clips.

For people who have more strenuous jobs, such as yelling at refs or throwing a challenge flag, it averages up to 12 weeks.

And that’s determined quite a bit on how the patient is feeling. When a person gets a new valve, the heart is essentially fixed.

It generally causes no further symptoms or problems — in fact many patients ultimately wind up with more energy and strength with a heart that’s got fresh well-working parts.

But recovering from an actual invasive surgery and the anesthesia that comes with it can be longer and more frustrating for some patients than others — remember, everyone heals at different rates. He will return when he and his doctors say so.

But remember, in the days of texts, emails, iPads, and Skype, dont be surprised if John Fox is involved sooner rather than later. And given his pre-surgical level of fitness, back on the sidelines in early December.

Bottom line, things look good for Coach Fox (and his family).

Which means In the big picture, it’s the best day of the Broncos season.


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