The news this morning that Dani Pedrosa was to undergo an operation to fix a loose fragment of bone in his collarbone came as a confirmation that there were further problems with the collarbone Pedrosa had had fixed after his crash with Marco Simoncelli at Le Mans. What caused the problem is unknown (despite the rumors in the Spanish and Italian press) but it required yet another operation, his third in 71 days on his collarbone.
This evening, the Repsol Honda team issued a press release (reproduced below), stating that the operation had been a success, and that Pedrosa would be starting his physical rehabiliation in two days' time. With action starting at the Dutch TT in Assen in just a week's time, that is very short notice for Pedrosa to be fit enough to ride again, and consequently, Pedrosa will make a decision in consultation with his doctors on riding early next week. If Pedrosa does not ride in Assen, the Repsol Honda team will be forced to replace him, Pedrosa having missed the previous two rounds at Barcelona and Silverstone. Hiroshi Aoyama is likely to replace the Spaniard, with Honda test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi coming in to take Aoyama's seat in the San Carlo Gresini Honda squad.
The press release does hold a clue to Pedrosa's mindset after his consistent collarbone problems, however. The operation was performed by Dr Mir, the top surgeon at the Institut Dexeus at Barcelona, and the current favorite among most of the Spanish medical staff. However, also present in the operation was Dr Cesar Garcia Madrid, a vascular specialist from the Teknon Medical Center, who helped diagnose the cause of the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome as a partially blocked subclavian artery (the main artery feeding blood to the arm) caused when holding the arm in the specific position used when racing a motorcycle. Once the plate - inserted by one of the surgeons working under Dr Mir after Motegi - had been removed from his left clavicle, Pedrosa's symptoms (numbness, lack of strength and feeling, and pain) disappeared completely.
Speaking to Pedrosa at Estoril, the sense of relief was palpable. Pedrosa had feared his racing career was over, that the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome was permanent and would prevent him from racing altogether. Coming back at Estoril, and then winning the race, relieved him of the mental pressure of worrying about his ability to race that he had suffered ever since returning to race at Phillip Island last year. To break his collarbone again at Le Mans, the very next race, once again put a good deal of pressure on the Spaniard, pressure which he had only just rid himself of. The dithering which Pedrosa did after Le Mans - taking until the Wednesday after Le Mans to decide to have his broken collarbone plated, followed by using a plate with much shorter screws than normal to fix in place, making it weaker than an ordinary construction - was a further sign of Pedrosa's worries regarding the operation. To have Dr Mir himself perform the corrective surgery, accompanied by a vascular specialist to ensure that the TOS does not rear its ugly head again is a clear sign of Pedrosa's concerns. Dani Pedrosa really wants to race again, but he doesn't want to go through the hell which was the last 8 months since Motegi again. Spanish newspaper El Pais has an excellent (Spanish) reconstruction of the chain of events leading up to Pedrosa's latest surgery.
Below is the official press release from Repsol Honda:
Dani Pedrosa has successful operation
The Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa underwent further surgery this evening to his broken right collarbone caused in the accident in Grand Prix of France. The operation was conducted at the USP Institut Universitari Dexeus by Dr. Xavier Mir, Chief of the Pathology Unit of the Hand of Dexeus USP, and Dr. Cesar Garcia Madrid, vascular specialist of the Institute Planell at Teknon Medical Center. The aim of the operation was to fix, by compression osteosynthesis, a small fragment of bone that had dislodged during the rehabilitation process. This technique allows a faster consolidation, minimizing the resting time.
After the surgery, Dr. Javier Mir reported, "We believe the surgery was successful as we were able to fix the fragment of bone of his collarbone in a very stable way and because of this we are confident that in 48 hours it will be possible to begin rehabilitation of his right shoulder".
After this period of rest, Dani Pedrosa will discuss with his medical team about his presence in the Dutch Grand Prix next week.