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Silva’s Surgeon: UFC 168 Injury Could Have Resulted in Amputation

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Anderson Silva’s UFC 168 injury was pretty gruesome, but according to his operating surgeon, it could have turned out much worse.

In the second round of his middleweight title fight rematch, Silva’s leg snapped in half after one of his kicks was checked. He was immediately rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, where Dr. Steven Sanders operated on the former champ.

Luckily, Dr. Sanders recognized that the injury could have been much worse, and diagnosed it as “fixable.” He described the incident on a recent media conference call:

“The minute I saw it and recognized it, I knew it was fixable. We are not even 48 hours from the surgery, and tibia fractures, though we can get them to heal, can have slower healing. So in general, my prognosis would be a fracture healing somewhere in the nature of three to six months. But there’s also soft tissue components that have to heal, and then of course a rehabilitative process as well.”

Still, Dr. Sanders called the injury “fairly severe,” and stated that if the skin had broken, Anderson Silva could have faced amputation if things got ugly enough:

“In terms of the severity of the injury, it was, I would say, fairly severe. Fortunately for Anderson, the skin did not break. But where could an injury like that go? An injury like that could go where, as I mentioned, the skin breaks, and now you’ve got this exposed bone in the environment of an Octagon, and so his risk of infection goes up meteorically. He could have also twisted in such a different direction where he could’ve potentially lacerated an artery going to the foot, in which case you now have what we call vascular compromise. He could’ve, in that case, potentially needed a vascular reconstructive procedure to reattach an artery. Injuries like this can, at times, even be limb threatening. If the fracture is severe enough, if it compromises vascular supply to the feet and vascular supply cannot be reestablished, it can result in an amputation.”

Silva ended up having a titanium rod inserted into his leg, and his recovery is already progressing nicely. Even Dr. Sanders was amazed that Silva is already on crutches, a fantastic sign given the nature of the injury.