March 4, 2008 / 5:51 PM / 11 years ago

Lanzinger stable after leg amputation

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian skier Matthias Lanzinger was in a stable condition on Tuesday after undergoing an emergency amputation of his lower left leg.

Austrian skier Matthias Lanzinger is pictured after his crash during the super-G World Cup competition in Kvitfjell, Central Norway March 2, 2008. Lanzinger will have his left leg amputated after breaking it during a World Cup race in Norway on Sunday, the Austrian ski federation said March 4, 2008. "As a result of irreparable tissue damage an amputation to avoid lasting serious damage is unavoidable," the federation said in a statement. Picture taken March 2, 2008. REUTERS/Knut Falch/Scanpix Norway

Doctors said Lanzinger, who broke the leg in a World Cup race in Norway on Sunday, might have died without the operation.

“An immediate operation was necessary due to an extreme deterioration in his general situation and the threat of a fatality,” Austrian vascular specialist Dr Thomas Hoelzenbein said after the operation carried out in Oslo.

“As a result of the surgery his condition has improved considerably. There is currently no acute risk to his life.”

Hoelzenbein’s comments were made in a statement released by the Austrian ski federation. It added that the skier was in a critical but stable condition.

Lanzinger, 27, underwent two operations on Monday as doctors battled to save his leg.

Austrian team spokesman Robert Brunner said there had been plans to fly Lanzinger to the Salzburg hospital in which doctor Artur Trost saved fellow Austrian skier Hermann Maier from amputation in 2001.

DOUBLE FRACTURE

The plan was dropped given the seriousness of the skier’s injuries. The leg suffered a double fracture and was no longer blood irrigated, said Brunner.

Lanzinger, whose best result was a third place in a World Cup super-G in Beaver Creek in 2005, crashed spectacularly out of his run in the latter stages of the super-G race on the Olympiabakken course in Kvitfjell, near Lillehammer.

He finished up in the safety netting at the side of the course and was carried down on a sledge by officials.

The Austrian press has been critical of the organizers, questioning why no helicopter was ready near the race course and saying a private helicopter had to be summoned to fly Lanzinger to Oslo.

“It will be the task of the Austrian ski federation to examine meticulously all the circumstances that led up to the accident and the amputation in order to provide the best possible support for Lanzinger,” the federation said in a separate statement on Tuesday.

“The Austrian ski federation will of course do everything it can to ensure Matthias Lanzinger the best possible rehabilitation and to support him in his private and professional future.”

Additional reporting by Mark Ledsom and Patrick Lang; Editing by Sonia Oxley

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