Lindsey Vonn Airlifted: Olympic Champion Suffered Knee Injury

First Posted: Feb 05, 2013 01:36 PM EST

Two days before the scheduled start of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn sustained a "complex knee injury" to her right knee, according to reports. She crashed during the opening day super-G at the Apline Ski World Championships in Austria. 

Famously known for winning the World Cup title four times and holding that title more than any American, her ski technician, Heinz Hammerle, said he believes that she awkwardly bent her right knee as she somersaulted down the mountain, leaving the president of the Austrian ski federation, Peter Schroksnadel, to report at a team meeting, that she had injured her anterior cruciate ligament and a lateral knee ligament. Her sister, Laura Kildow, reported to NBC Sports, that she will be needing surgery for the injury. However, Vonn, 28, will not need immediate surgery in her right knee, according to Christian Kaulfersch, a doctor who is treating her at Schladming Hospital. 

Recovery times for knee surgeries vary greatly. However, as this is a problem for numerous ski racers who often endure multiple ligament tears throughout their careers, some can return to the slopes in less than a year. Others, maybe not.

Arthroscopy, the common surgical procedure in which a joint is viewed using a small camera, will allow doctors to view the inside of the knee to diagnose and treat various problems. According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, more than 4 million knee arthroscopies are performed worldwide each year.

A number of small incisions by an orthopaedic surgeon into the knee joint allow the doctor to feel, repair and or remove the damaged tissue using various small surgical instruments that are inserted around the damaged area.

More to follow on the updating story. 

Video, courtesy of YouTube.

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