STORRS, Conn. — Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun is set to have back surgery today to help alleviate pain caused by narrowing of his spinal column, a procedure that he hopes could lead to his return to the court this season.
Connecticut has not provided details about the surgery, but Calhoun said it is being performed after conventional therapy to treat his spinal stenosis failed. The Hall of Fame head coach is expected to be hospitalized for two nights.
Dr. John Knightly, who is the medical director of the Spine Center at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, N.J., said that time frame means it is likely Calhoun will undergo what is called a laminectomy, which involves removing some of the bone in the spinal column to create more space and relieve pressure on the nerve roots. He is not treating Calhoun.
“They open the skin up and either on one side or both sides remove the back portion of the canal so there is more room for the nerve to come out,” said Knightly. “The analogy I use with my patients is that it is like a covered bridge you have an 18-wheeler and you come across this covered bridge and you need to get to the other side. So, you take out your chain saw and cut off the top of the bridge and you drive the truck through.”
Calhoun, who has missed seven games so far during his medical leave, will not coach Tuesday at Providence, and the school said he will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
Calhoun said Saturday that he hopes to be back in time to coach the March 3 season finale against Pittsburgh.