Before Sunday's 6-5 win over the Cardinals, manager Don Mattingly said he was told by team physician Neal ElAttrache that Ellis had a chance of losing his leg had he not undergone an urgent fasciotomy.
Ellis, who will be out at least six weeks, injured the leg when Cardinals second baseman Tyler Greene slid into him during a takeout slide. The resulting fasciotomy, essentially an incision into the leg to relieve tension and pressure, released blood and fluid build-up in the leg.
"That was scary enough, that's serious enough," said Mattingly, who visited Ellis in the hospital after Saturday's game. "I didn't realize how bad that was. Doc said last night that if that thing goes another six or seven hours, he has a chance to lose a leg."
Because the injury caused so much swelling and pain, Ellis was unable to complete a full MRI, so other undiagnosed injuries remain a possibility. The contact occured a few inches below Ellis' left knee and the Dodgers are hopeful the knee was unaffected.
Mattingly said his basic message when he saw Ellis after Saturday's game was that he is glad he is OK.
"He had some medication in him so he was feeling all right," Mattingly said, laughing. "He seemed OK -- as good a spirit as you can be in. It just amazes me that you go from that play to something that could have been that serious if you don't pick it up.
"That's just amazing stuff. I'm so glad these guys were on it."
"These guys" Mattingly was referring to were the team trainers and doctors. Mattingly said he first sensed the severity of the injury by the look on the face of trainer Sue Falsone when she tested Ellis' leg Saturday afternoon -- a day after the injury.
In general, a fasciotomy is a rarity as a result of sports-related injuries. Typically, it is performed on those involved in car accidents.Ellis will remain hospitalized until Tuesday.