Dan Cancian of Newsweek spoke to medical experts about the injuries Tiger Woods endured on February 23rd. The shock that the golfer may never play again comes just two years after Tiger Woods stood on the 18th green at Augusta National, Georgia, having just completed one of golf’s most epic comebacks.
The 45-year-old was in a terrible single vehicle car crash outside of Los Angeles. Woods was extricated from his rolled SUV with a pry bar and ax. In the words of L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Carlos Gonzales, “It’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive.”
Dr. Anish Mahajan said on Tuesday that Woods had suffered “multiple open fractures” to his lower right leg, which required screws and pins inserted in his right ankle. Mahajan works as the chief medical officer and interim CEO at Harbor-UCLA,
A rod was inserted into the tibia to stabilize “comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones.”
Comminuted fracture is a medical term used to illustrate a bone is broken in more than one place, while open fracture means the bone has broken through the skin. This unfortunately poses a major threat to Woods’ recovery.
Preventing Infection Is Critical
“When there is an open [wound] and bone is exposed, preventing infection is critical,” Dr. Alexis Colvin, Orthopedic Sports Medicine Surgeon at The Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, told Newsweek.
“This usually involves antibiotics and potentially return trips to the operating room to continue to clean the tissues and bones.”
While in all likelihood the “bacteria will be overcome by the antibiotics” that Woods was treated with, Dr. Rand McClain believes the prospect of additional surgery cannot yet be discounted.
“If the infection cannot be adequately resolved in a timely manner, a decision may be made to remove the hardware—the rod screws and plates that are fastening Tiger’s bones together—until they heal to give the body a better chance to defeat the bacteria. This would obviously be a major setback,” said McClain, the Chief Medical Officer of LCR Health in Santa Monica, California.
Recovery timelines for this kind of injury are “incredibly varied and very much depends on the extent of bony and soft tissue injury and/or a combination of injuries,” said Dr. James Holmes, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Michigan Medicine.