As reported by The Hartford Courant, June 24, 2008.
Helping Out in Schilling's Surgery
By Paul Doyle
As a kid in Willimantic, sports and science were his interests.
So Dr. Gus Mazzocca isn't surprised by his career choice. When he began pursuing a life in medicine, sports was part of the plan.
"This is really kind of a natural for me," Mazzocca said by phone from Delaware, where he helped in Curt Schilling's surgery Monday.
Mazzocca, an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the UConn Health Center, assisted Dr. Craig Morgan. They repaired Schilling's labrum, rotator cuff and biceps tendon, using a procedure originated and developed by Mazzocca and a fellow UConn doctor, Robert Arciero.
The surgery lasted just under two hours and Mazzocca said the findings were encouraging — the rotator cuff tear was slight, requiring one suture. And Mazzocca said the biceps tenodesis surgery he and Arciero developed was routine.
So while the doctor was operating on the shoulder of an elite major league pitcher, it could have been any one of his patients. Mazzocca has been performing biceps surgery for about five years and has published three papers on the procedure.
"We've seen great results," Mazzocca said. "We've done it on all kinds of people, not just athletes. It's really common with laborers or iron workers. ... or weekend-warrior athletes who hurt themselves. We've done a lot of research in this area, a lot of research on shoulders, and that's where this procedure came from."
The procedure addresses biceps tendinitis in the shoulder, which can lead to a Superior Labrum Anterior-Posterior tear. Schilling had a SLAP tear, so the biceps tenodesis procedure will help his shoulder heal.
During the procedure, the biceps tendon's attachment to the shoulder is moved so the tendon can heal. A special screw — also developed by Mazzocca and Arciero — is used to hold the tendon in place while it heals.
Mazzocca was asked to assist in Schilling's surgery last winter, when Morgan first suggested a procedure. Surgery was scheduled, but the Red Sox medical staff overruled Morgan and advised Schilling, 41, to rest.
"A couple of times I was sitting inside security at Bradley Airport when I got the call that it had been called off," Mazzocca said. "We were waiting to go and some different political things happened."
Mazzocca, 44, played lacrosse at Denison University in Ohio and said he is a sports fan. His family, he said, is made up of many Boston sports fans.
"We all love UConn, of course," Mazzocca said.
Mazzocca's father, Augustus, is from the Boston area, played football at UConn in the early 1960s and is a professor of art at UConn. His mother, D'Ann, is also a UConn graduate and is the executive director of the school's office of legislative management.
Mazzocca's father teaches printmaking at UConn, where he has worked since 1970. But the younger Mazzocca was more inclined to study science. He got a master's degree in physiology and studied exercise physiology at NASA after college.
Eventually, he entered the UConn School of Medicine and began studying orthopedic surgery. After a fellowship in Chicago, he returned to UConn in 2002.
"For me, it's natural to be in sports medicine and natural to be at the University of Connecticut," Mazzocca said.