Royals pitcher Nathan Karns is expected to be healthy for spring training in 2018 after undergoing season-ending surgery on Thursday in Dallas for thoracic outlet syndrome.
The surgery was scheduled earlier this month after Karns was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a neurogenic condition caused by the compression of nerves near the neck and shoulder. He last pitched on May 19, exiting a start in Minnesota with tightness in his forearm.
The surgery included the removal of a rib — a first rib resection — near the shoulder, a standard technique. The operation was performed by Dr. Gregory Pearl, a specialist in thoracic outlet, also known as TOS.
“Everything went well,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It went just as expected.”
Karns reported little pain after the operation, Yost said. That generally indicates a positive for the rehab process.
Thoracic outlet syndrome can cause numbness in the fingers and soreness in the arm. The condition has become more common in baseball circles in recent years, especially among pitchers, though players and industry medical personnel say that is in part because there is more awareness of the issue.
In 2016, thoracic outlet felled Royals reliever Luke Hochevar, top prospect Kyle Zimmer and right-hander Dillon Gee. Former Royals pitcher Chris Young also suffered from the condition before a diagnosis helped extend his career.
Karns, 29, is under club control through the 2020 season. In eight starts this season, he posted a 3.43 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings.