Tulsa orthopedic surgeon: Woods faces long road and uncertain outcome

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Were he at Tiger Woods’ side watching the surgeries go off as planned, it would be impossible to predict the eventual outcome, a prominent Tulsa orthopedic surgeon said today.

Any speculation about whether Woods will walk normally or play again is just that, said Dr. Greg Holt, founder and surgeon of The Orthopedic Center near downtown Tulsa.

“There are so many different outcomes based on so many variables,” Holt said. “Even if I knew everything and could see it with my own eyes, there are still four or five different outcomes each of which is just as likely as the next.”

Woods sustained the serious leg injuries on Tuesday after the luxury S.U.V. he was driving struck the median of a road in Los Angeles County, crossed over into the opposite lane of traffic and rolled over several times before coming to a stop in a grassy area several hundred feet from where he had been driving, the authorities said.

Woods suffered “comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower tibia and fibula” said Dr. Anish Mahajan, interim CEO and chief medical officer of Harbor-UCLA Hospital, where Woods was taken to the trauma center and treated.


“Comminuted” means there were multiple fragments of the tibia and fibula shattering.

Holt said it is likely the surgeries to repair the tibia and fibula will be successful, but there is always a chance that parts of the bone will have lost blood supply and die. But the area of gravest concern, he said, is Woods right ankle, which was described by doctors as “shattered.”

“My biggest concern is if there are multiple fragments in his ankle and it affects the joint, he will lose mobility going forward. In golf, the ankle is not the most important part of the body in producing a swing, but it’s still important.

“He’ll have a very difficult road to return. I do think he’ll probably walk with a mild limp.”

Will Woods’ extreme athleticism and penchant for working out benefit him in his recovery? To an extent, Holt said.

“I think age matters more than anything,” Holt said of Woods, who is 45 and has already underwent five back surgeries and four knee surgeries, among other procedures. “But he was one of the first to bring a superior level of fitness to the game. That work and fitness ethic improves his chances.”

Woods would have been scheduled to be in Oklahoma for the 2022 PGA Championship next May at Southern Hills Country Club. He won the PGA Championship there in 2007. Will he be able to recover enough from his injuries to be in the field in 2022?

Clarity on that is a long ways away. It would seem extremely doubtful, Holt agreed, but Woods has beaten plenty of long odds before.


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