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Wisconsin Coach Undergoes Surgery

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Wisconsin Coach Undergoes Surgery

November 19, 1999
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Just days after leading Wisconsin to the top of the Big Ten, coach Barry Alvarez underwent a successful knee replacement operation Tuesday.

Despite his surgery, Alvarez is expected to coach the Badgers in preparation for the Rose Bowl and will travel with his team to Pasadena, Calif.

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., inserted an artificial joint behind Alvarez's right kneecap. Alvarez suffered from osteoarthritis, a disease that causes deterioration of the cartilage and creation of bone spurs.

The Badgers coach was groggy after the surgery, but his doctors believe the three-hour operation was successful, athletic department spokesman Steve Malchow said.

``I think Barry's just excited that he knows he's going to be able to walk again someday, and he knows it's going to take rehabilitation to get him to that point,' Malchow said.

Doctors tried to perform the same operation in October, but could not complete it because they found an infection in the middle of surgery.

Malchow said Alvarez woke up from that surgery ``mentally devastated' to find out the operation had not gone as planned.

``I'm sure when he gets his wits about him he'll feel wonderful that they got the knee in,' he said.

Doctors attempted last spring to ease pain in Alvarez's knee by minor surgery, hoping the knee would last another few years, Malchow said. The coach, however, reinjured the joint while attending an Aug. 23 exhibition game in Madison between the Green Bay Packers and the Denver Broncos.

Alvarez will stay hospitalized in the Mayo Clinic at least until the end of this week, and will remain near his doctor in Minnesota for several days after that, Malchow said.

Alvarez lost much of the muscle and movement in the joint, so it will take time to get him used to moving the new knee, Malchow said.

In the months following the October surgery, Alvarez coached from a golf cart, a scooter, crutches, the press box and a hospital bed.

Doctors said it normally takes six months to a year before a prosthetic is fully healed.

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