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Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Repair Steelers' Roethlisberger after Crash

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania--Oral and maxillofacial surgeon Daniel Pituch, DDS, MD, chief of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh, led the surgical team that operated on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger Monday, to repair jaw and facial injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash that morning. Joining Dr. Pituch in the operating room were fellow oral and maxillofacial surgeon Mark W. Ochs, DDS, MD, chair of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department and associate dean for hospital affairs; Elias Hilal, MD, Chief of the Division of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery; and trauma surgeon Jorge Varcelotti, MD."

According to Dr. Pituch, while the seven-hour surgery was extensive and intricate, a good outcome is expected. "After the surgery, Ben looked up and asked 'Did you fix me?'", Pituch recalled. "I said, 'Yes,' and then we talked about it. He's a very nice young man.""The [injuries] presented quite a challenge," added Dr. Ochs. "The most important aspect of Level I trauma care," he explained, "is prioritizing, coordinating and sequencing the treatment - that's what occurred here and allowed for success. I was very pleased with how the entire team worked together."

On Tuesday, Roethlisberger was upgraded from "serious, but stable condition" to "fair condition," and his full list of injuries - fractures to his upper and lower jaws; a mild concussion; a fractured nose; fractured facial bones; multiple head lacerations; multiple abrasions and contusions; loss of two teeth; and damage to several other teeth - was released to the press. Roethlisberger was not wearing a helmet.He will likely be released from the hospital in three to five days, and the doctors hope he'll reconsider his anti-helmet stance then. "Helmets can and certainly do reduce maxillofacial injuries É He's a very fortunate man," said Dr. Pituch.

Roethlisberger has stated in the past that he prefers not to wear a helmet, since Pennsylvania's mandatory helmet law was repealed in 2003. Since then, according to statistics from the state Department of Transportation, the number of motorcycle deaths involving riders who were confirmed not to have been wearing helmets nearly quadrupled from 23 in 2002 (the last full year the state's old helmet law was in effect) to 87 in 2005. The total number of motorcycle deaths in 2005 was 205, up from 134 in 2002, according to Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation.

Dr. Pituch serves as president of the Western Pennsylvania Society of OMS and as treasurer of the Pennsylvania Society of OMS - where he will become president-elect in the fall. He is also a member and alternate delegate from the state of Pennsylvania to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the surgical specialists of the dental profession, specifically trained to repair injuries to the mouth, face and jaws. After four years of dental school, oral and maxillofacial surgeons complete four or more years of hospital-based surgical residency training that may include rotations through related medical fields, including internal medicine, general surgery, anesthesiology, otolaryngology, cosmetic surgery, emergency medicine and other medical specialty areas.

SOURCE: American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

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