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Egan Bernal undergoes complex but successful spinal surgery

Giro d'Italia 2021 - 104th Edition - 9th stage Castel di Sangro - Campo Felice (Rocca di Cambio) 158 km - 16/05/2021 - Egan Bernal (COL - Ineos Grenadiers) - photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021
Egan Bernal at last year's Giro d'Italia, which he won (Image credit: Dario Belingheri/Bettini Photo)

Egan Bernal underwent major neurological spinal surgery overnight in Colombia, with the procedure described as a 'success'.

Surgeons worked on injuries to the thoracic section of the spine, with the hospital revealing they had managed to maintain neurological integrity and conserve the functionality of the area, suggesting Bernal could have avoided permanent damage to his spinal cord. 

According to a statement from Colombian police, Bernal crashed into the back of a bus while training near his home with several Ineos Grenadiers teammates. Videos and photo shared on social media showed him lying on the ground behind the bus, which had a heavily-dented rear panel. 

He suffered multiple injuries and fractures but the Clinica Universidad de La Sabana in Bogota confirmed that the neurosurgical operation was a success. 

"The neurosurgery team carried out a reduction of a displaced fracture from the T5 [vertebra] to the T6 [vertebra] with a traumatic herniated disc," a statement from the hospital explained. 

"Under constant monitoring for nervous system activity, a tool was put in place from the T3 to the T8, maintaining neurological integrity and conserving the functionality of the segments involved."

Before the neurosurgery, Bernal underwent orthopaedic surgery, with an earlier medical update confirming his other injuries. He also underwent a thoracostomy to help drain away fluid, blood, and air due to a hemopneumothorax from the trauma to his chest. 

The Ineos Grenadiers team later confirmed that Bernal suffered a fractured vertebrae, a fractured right femur, a fractured right patella, chest trauma, a punctured lung and several fractured ribs in the crash. 

"Doctors were able to medically pin his right leg and stabilise the vertebrae fracture in two separate surgeries last night. He is now in an intensive care unit where other potential secondary injuries are being managed, as well as his body’s response to the trauma," the team said in an update. 

"The team would like to thank the medical staff at Clinica Universidad de La Sabana and everyone who has sent messages of support to Egan. All of our focus is on ensuring Egan is given the best possible care as he starts on his road to recovery."

Bernal will remain in intensive care for the next three days at least.

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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.