Chris Sims’ Splenic Fracture

I got home from another day at the ED to this headline on CNN: NFL quarterback loses game, then spleen

First thought?  Wow, he signed a really bad contract.  The article cleared some things up:

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms had his spleen removed after taking several hard hits in 26-24 loss to the Carolina - News and Scores from Sports IllustratedPanthers and was resting comfortably in a hospital Sunday night.

There was no immediate word on how long the fourth-year pro might be sidelined. The recuperation time for a normal person is four to six weeks, though it’s unclear how long it might take to heal enough to play football.

“Chris is doing well and we anticipate a full recovery,” team physician Dr. Joe Diaco said in a brief statement, adding the 26-year-old son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms was in stable condition…

He took a good hit according to the article, and that might have been what did it (speculation). 

For those who wonder what a ruptured spleen might look like, here’s a CT illustration (mouse over for the text explanation (requires java)):


(this is NOT Chris Sims’ splenic CT; this is one with a better story I’ll tell someday).


To get an appreciation of what is involved in a laparoscopic splenectomy (I’m guessing that’s what he had, the article didn’t say, but it makes sense) here’s a demonstration.

A quick recovery to Chris Sims, and prayers for his family.


  1. An interesting aspect of this is wondering how the option of non-operative treatment was addressed. It seems clear it wasn’t bleeding much, based on the fact that he kept playing for a time. In many cases, low-grade bleeding is managed without exploration, at least initially. It means observation in house for a few days, then orders to take it pretty easy. Would an NFL quarterback be inclined (or would his owners) to get it out ASAP with the idea he’d be back on the field sooner?

  2. Exactly. Was this spleen sacrificed for a career?

  3. Or maybe he was bleeding, and his world-class-athlete physiology allowed him to compensate for it… never underestimate how much being in top physical condition helps.

    If Lance Armstrong shows up in your ER complaining that he lost blood after cutting himself on a broken bottle, you’d better take it seriously if he’s got a heart rate of 90 (considering that his resting HR is probably in the 30’s).