Patient Stories

Christopher C. Annunziata, MD

Dedicated surfer Spiro was looking forward to a trip to the world-class beaches of Nicaragua when disaster struck. Playing in a local football game, the 25-year-old architect took a hard hit and felt a familiar pop and snap in his right knee. Thinking he’d suffered a repeat of an old anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, he went home and put on a soft leg cast to immobilize his knee and keep it straight.

With the Nicaragua trip less than a year away, Spiro was determined to recover in time. His injury was worse than he thought, however. In the days that followed, his knee felt increasingly unstable and the pain did not let up. Spiro needed a specialist, but he wasn’t sure where to turn.

He got lucky in a Metro station. “I was waiting for the train and heard a familiar ‘clink, clink, clink’ on the platform,” Spiro recalls. “A young woman was coming toward me. She was on her crutches, I was on my crutches, and we started talking. It turned out she was a dancer with the Washington Ballet who’d just had knee surgery at OrthoVirginia.”

Spiro got two phone numbers that day – one for the ballerina and one for Christopher Annunziata, MD, a OrthoVirginia surgeon with expertise in complex ligament and revision reconstruction. Dr. Annunziata diagnosed a multi-ligament injury. In addition to the ACL tear, Spiro had torn both his medial collateral ligament (MCL) and posterolateral corner (PLC), and damaged some cartilage. He would need a complex reconstruction procedure to fix all the injuries at once.

Following his surgery, Spiro had just one goal in mind: to be able to surf again in seven months. He launched an all-out recovery effort, starting with physical therapy to regain flexibility, stability and strength, and gradually adding daily biking, weight training, and treadmill workouts.

His determination paid off and he was able to make the trip to Nicaragua. Despite the stress on his knees, he surfed every wave he could and came back in one piece with no aches or pains. “Dr. Annunziata was an inspirational doctor and my champion,” he says. “He and everyone at OrthoVirginia took great care of me. I never would have been able to get back on my surfboard so fast without such exceptional care.”