Source: Starks has successful surgery for testicular torsion

Friday, April 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Utah Jazz guard John Starks had surgery this week to remove a testicle and was resting at home Thursday, a source close to Starks told The Associated Press.

Starks, 35, had surgery Tuesday and was hospitalized overnight for a condition called testicular torsion, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Jazz spokesman David Allred refused to confirm the report, saying only that Starks' aliment wasn't basketball-related. The team issued a news release Tuesday saying Starks ``successfully underwent a minor medical procedure.''

Dr. Tony Middleton Jr., chief of urology at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, said torsion occurs when a testicle becomes twisted 360 degrees and its blood supply is cut off.

Patients complain of swelling and extreme pain in the testicle. Prompt treatment, usually within four hours, is required. Sometimes doctors can untwist the testicle by hand, but surgery often is necessary.

``We'll open up and untwist the testicle, then give it a few minutes to see if that restores the blood supply. It will pink up,'' Middleton said. ``More often than not, the testicle remains dark and that indicates the tissue has died.''

In that case, the testicle must be removed because gangrene can set in.

Starks, who played college basketball at Oklahoma State University, was released from an undisclosed Salt Lake-area hospital Wednesday. He missed Thursday's practice but Allred said Starks might travel Friday to Dallas for Game 3 of Utah's playoff series with the Mavericks.

Starks is listed as questionable for Saturday's game. If Dallas wins, he is considered probable for Game 4 on Tuesday.

The Jazz had said Wednesday that Starks was expected to attend Thursday's practice, but trainer Gary Briggs said doctors wanted Starks off his feet for 48 hours following the procedure.

``He's really feeling good,'' the source said. ``There was a little concern today, not that there could be complications, but the feeling was that keeping him off his feet would be better for him.''

Allred said the procedure was unrelated to another overnight hospitalization for Starks, who checked into Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful on Sunday. The Jazz have said he complained of ``abdominal pain'' after eating ice cream, but tests showed nothing unusual.

Testicular pain is a symptom of torsion.

Dr. Blake Hamilton, assistant professor of urology at the University of Utah's School of Medicine, said it's not unusual for torsion patients to return to work within a few days of the procedure.

``It varies quite a lot,'' Hamilton said. ``Some people have a high pain threshold. Some people have jobs that require them back, and some people work in factories where they might not want to return right away.''

The cause of torsion is unknown. It occurs more frequently in adolescent boys than in grown men.

``It has to do with anatomy, how the testicle is formed. Some people are more predisposed to it,'' Hamilton said.

Middleton said torsion ``is an anatomic impossibility'' in 95 percent of males.

``Because of the way the testicle is hooked to the side structure, the testicle simply can't twist,'' he said. ``However, 3 to 5 percent of men have anatomic circumstances that allow it to twist.''

For most patients, there are no long-term effects from surgery to treat testicular torsion. It doesn't cause sterility or impotence and most men can resume a normal lifestyle.

``There's no particular restriction,'' Middleton said. ``A person who has the procedure should be able to live a normal life.''