Southerland, a first-year professional, will have surgery performed on his left leg to repair a constriction in his iliac artery, a problem common in cyclists.
The diagnosis was made last week and solves a mystery that went undiagnosed in previous tests. Southerland has been sidelined since pulling out of Stage 1 of the Redlands Bicycle Classic on April 4.
"Every therapist I've seen has said something definitely was not right, but they didn't know what was wrong," Southerland said. "It's been a bit of a mental strain because other than my left leg not working at intensity, I had know idea what the problem was, or when it would be fixed. Getting surgery is a relief in that I now have a time frame, and can set new goals accordingly."
Performing the surgery will be Dr. Kenneth Cherry, Jr., a vascular surgeon at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, Va. Monday's operation will place a patch inside the artery to act as a wedge and open it back up to its proper size.
Southerland must remain off the bike for at least six weeks and can essentially do nothing to exercise his cardiovascular system. For someone with Type 1 diabetes, it will be a shock to the system, he said.
"Exercise, next to my rapid acting insulin, Apidra, is my second-best form of blood sugar control," Southerland said.
Southerland's injury is the latest to plague the first-year professional continental team that features four riders on its roster who have Type 1 diabetes. Matt Wilson and Dan Holt each broke wrists in separate accidents and Ben Brooks also had to pull out of Redlands with a nagging back injury. Glen Chadwick was also laid up for a time in the early season with a case of Epstein-Barr virus.
"It is another disappointment for Team Type 1 to loose Phil to the lineup, but I am happy we have found an answer to his nagging problem," Team Type 1 Sport Director Ed Beamon said. "Team doctor Dawn Richardson was the first to suggest that Iliac thrombosis may be the cause of Phil's ailment, and it appears to be a very astute diagnosis. Although it is a big setback for Phil and the team, it is a relief to know we can plan a course for his recovery and return to competition."
Southerland said he looks forward to a smooth rehabilitation from the surgery and a strong second half of the season.
"If all goes well, I'll potentially be back for the Tour of Missouri and the Herald Sun Tour (in Australia)," he said. "I'll use the down time to work on securing sponsorship for 2009 so we can expand our program, as well as attend as many charity events as possible to continue to spread the message about Team Type 1."