Teenager Makes Full Recovery from Rare Clavicle Break, Thanks to Danbury Hospital Orthopedic Surgeon

Norwalk Hospital
Matthew Rogell, M.D.

DANBURY, Connecticut, November 8, 2018 — When 14-year-old Daniel Gantert’s friend told him he couldn’t land a snowboard jump, of course, he had to try it. Daniel, a risk-taker with two years of snowboarding experience under his belt, was enjoying a fun day on the slopes in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire at a resort about four and a half hours from his home in Connecticut. Daniel Gantert, Danbury Hospital Patient

Unfortunately, on his second run of the day, Daniel tried a jump that was a bit over his head, literally. The jump was taller than his height of 5’8” — and the landing did not go smoothly.

“All I remember is waking up in the ambulance,” said Daniel. He had broken his helmet and blacked out. Luckily, other skiers and snowboarders on the mountain flagged down the ski patrol, who took Daniel down the mountain on a sled to an ambulance. He was then taken by ambulance to a medical clinic on the mountain.

Concerned he might have a spinal cord injury, the doctors at the clinic considered sending Daniel straight to a hospital. Instead, they made the decision to treat him right there in the clinic. Thankfully, Daniel had not injured his spinal cord, but he did have a concussion. The clinic doctors also suspected that he had broken his collarbone.

Daniel was discharged from the clinic in Waterville Valley with a sling to immobilize his shoulder. His dad, Peter, then brought him to a hospital in New Hampshire, where doctors did a computed tomography (CT) scan to make sure Daniel did not have a bleed in his head. Luckily, there was no sign of a bleed, but Daniel was not out of the woods yet. In fact, he was far from it.

Daniel Gantert, Danbury Hospital PatientWhile a collarbone (also called a clavicle) injury is not unusual, Daniel’s specific type of clavicle injury was actually quite rare. A clavicle will typically break at a point that is closer to the shoulder, but Daniel’s clavicle fracture was closer to the midpoint of his chest — which happens in only 2 to 3 percent of cases. 

It was clear that Daniel was going to need surgery, and given the complications with his injury his parents decided there was only one surgeon they could trust to treat him: Matthew Rogell, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Connecticut Family Orthopedics and Danbury Hospital.

A highly experienced orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Rogell is also the Orthopedic Trauma Liaison for Danbury Hospital’s Joint and Spine Institute. He focuses on sports orthopedics in addition to performing total hip, knee, and shoulder replacements at the hospital.

“I wouldn’t let anyone else touch him,” said Peter, who had previously gone to Dr. Rogell for help with his own elbow and knee. “I know what kind of work he does and what kind of doctor he is,” said Peter.

Dr. Rogell examined Daniel and discovered a dangerous complication — the broken bone was pressing on a major blood vessel extending directly from Daniel’s heart. Daniel would need surgery to repair the break, but Dr. Rogell was worried about the complications that could result from lifting the bone off the blood vessel.

To prepare for the surgery, Dr. Rogell consulted with colleagues who specialize in trauma orthopedics. He also consulted with Dahlia Plummer, MD, Section Chief of Vascular Surgery at Danbury Hospital. Dr. Plummer, a vascular surgeon at Western Connecticut Medical Group Vascular Surgery, agreed to be on standby during the surgery, ready to jump in if the blood vessel was damaged during the procedure.

“Knowing that Dr. Rogell contacted his network, did his research, and had made a very specific plan, put us at ease,” said Peter. “We knew he hadn’t left anything to chance, and he would help our son.”

As for Daniel, he said, “I wasn’t scared at all. I knew Dr. Rogell.”

Daniel Gantert, Danbury Hospital PatientThe surgery took place in February of 2018, two weeks after the injury occurred. During that interim time, Daniel stayed home from school.

During the surgery, Dr. Rogell used plates and screws to put the bone back together. The procedure took only an hour, and thankfully there were no complications. Dr. Rogell was relieved the procedure went smoothly. He gave credit to Danbury Hospital’s great team, including the surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists. “Everyone collaborated and we got a good result,” he said.

Clavicle StoryDaniel made a very quick recovery. After a couple of weeks he no longer needed to wear a sling, and within six weeks he had regained full motion and function in his shoulder. By April of 2018, he was back in action on his baseball team, playing shortstop and catcher. He’s had no pain since his recovery. 

“I truly enjoy getting to know my patients, and helping them get back to the activities they like to do. That’s always my goal,” said Dr. Rogell.

Daniel’s mom, Tricia, said Danbury Hospital did a lot to alleviate her and her husband’s concerns. “Everyone was wonderful — informative and nice. We knew what to expect and it made all the difference.”Daniel, now a freshman at New Fairfield High School, seems undaunted by his ordeal. When asked if he is going to try any big snowboard jumps this winter, he answered with an emphatic “Yes!” Meanwhile, his parents have their own response to that question: “Absolutely not!”

About Dr. Matthew Rogell
Dr. Matthew Rogell specializes in sports medicine and adult joint reconstruction of the shoulder, hip, and knee. He is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, a diplomat of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons (ABOS), and a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS). Throughout his career, he has been affiliated with professional sports teams and many college and high school sports teams. He is a long-time athlete himself and enjoys soccer, rugby, and skiing. Dr. Rogell specializes in arthroscopic surgery, allowing minimally invasive joint repair. He incorporates state-of-the-art technologies into his practice, including stem cell and platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapies and patient specific joint reconstruction.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Rogell at Connecticut Family Orthopedics, please visit the website or call 203-792-5558.

About The Joint and Spine Institute at Danbury Hospital
The Joint and Spine Institute offers expert treatment with the goal of getting you back to your normal life as quickly and comfortably as possible. Our specialized programs include a Joint Replacement Center of Excellence, a Spine Surgery Center of Excellence, and a Center for Advanced Sports Medicine. From arthritis to traumatic injuries, we treat the full range of orthopedic conditions, including illnesses and injuries that affect the bones and joints. Our experienced, highly skilled team of orthopedic surgeons offers expert surgical and non-surgical treatment of sports injuries and other musculoskeletal complaints.

To learn more about Danbury Hospital’s Joint and Spine Institute, please visit our website.

Catch up on the latest news at WCHN. Visit wchn.org/news today!