Tiger Woods Is Recovering From Multiple Bone Fractures After Car Accident
Tiger Woods is in recovery after undergoing emergency surgery for injuries sustained in a serious single-car accident on Tuesday, February 23.
Orthopedic trauma specialists at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, a level-one trauma center in Los Angeles County, operated extensively on the golfer’s lower right leg and ankle to treat several significant orthopedic injuries, according to a statement posted to the official Tiger Woods Twitter account.
Woods suffered “comminuted open fractures,” affecting the upper and lower portions of the tibia (shin) and fibula (outer calf) bones, Anish Mahajan, M.D., chief medical officer and interim CEO at Harbor-UCLA, said in the statement. A comminuted fracture is one in which the bone is broken into pieces, while an “open” (or compound) fracture means the broken bone has pierced through the skin, exposing the body to infection and necessitating immediate and aggressive treatment, the Mayo Clinic explains.
Surgeons stabilized these comminuted open fractures by inserting a rod into the tibia bone, and treated “additional injuries” to Woods’s foot and ankle bones using screws and pins, Dr. Mahajan said. Rods, screws, and pins are all types of “internal fixation devices” doctors surgically insert to make sure a broken bone stays in proper alignment during the healing process, the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains. They are more likely to be necessary when someone sustains multiple, more complex, or more severe fractures that won’t heal with immobilization alone.
Woods also experienced trauma to the muscle and soft tissue in his lower right leg, Dr. Mahajan said, requiring “surgical release of the covering of the muscles to relieve pressure due to swelling.” Our muscles and the nearby nerves and blood vessels are surrounded by layers of tissue called fascia, forming a compartment. Since fascia cannot expand, the swelling from high-impact injuries (like those caused by a car accident) lead to a dangerous buildup of pressure called compartment syndrome, the Mayo Clinic explains.
The pressure can block blood flow and cause permanent muscle and nerve damage, resulting in loss of function. It is often treated with a surgery called a fasciotomy, in which surgeons cut the fascia to help relieve the pressure, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In more severe cases that don’t get prompt treatment, amputation may be required.
Woods’s recovery timeline and the potential for future mobility issues are unclear at this point, but he likely has a long road ahead of him. The recovery timeline for a broken leg depends on the exact type of injuries and complications involved. But in general it can include several months (or more) of rehabilitation and physical therapy to help restore muscle strength, flexibility, range of motion, and movement, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Currently, Woods is “awake, responsive, and recovering in his hospital room,” according to the statement. His team also thanks the doctors and hospital staff, as well as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department for their “outstanding” support and assistance.
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