UFC orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Sanders, the doctor responsible for replacing former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva’s leg early last Sunday, went into detail during a media conference on Monday on the procedure and Silva’s expected recovery time.
Anderson broke his tibia and fibula during the second round of his rematch against current UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman at UFC 168 last Saturday. The event took place December 28 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Silva threw an inside leg kick which the Champ checked causing Silva’s leg to snap in two.
The leg was then stabilized inside the Octagon by Dr. Sanders who was sitting cage side and said that as soon as the leg broke he thought to himself, “That’s fixable”. Dr. Sanders described the break as a “fairly severe” injury.
Anderson was transported to Universal Medical Center in Las Vegas to undergo emergency surgery. The surgery lasted “about an hour” according to Dr. Sanders, and involved inserting a titanium rod into Silva’s broken tibia. Though the fibula is expected to heal on its own, three screws were inserted into the rod to stabilize everything. It is most likely that the titanium rod will remain in Silva’s leg for the rest of his life unless the former champ decide to have it surgically removed after he is fully recovered.
Though the injury seemed to be a worse case kind of scenario, Dr. Sanders says that it could have been much worse given the circumstances.
“Fortunately for Anderson, the skin did not break,” said Dr. Sanders. “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.”
According to Dr. Sanders, Anderson is expected to make a full recovery and the bone should be fully healed within three to six months. Dr. Sanders has even stated that he expects Silva’s bones to regain full strength and says that the former champ could return to fighting if he so wished.
“My prognosis for healing is three to six months,” stated Dr. Sanders. “But there are also soft tissue components that have to heal. If I had to make a guess less than 48 hours from the operation, it would be the fracture healing in three to six months, and attempting to train, six to nine months. You don’t rehab a broken bone, it heals itself.”
And according to the Dr. Sanders, Anderson is in fact already asking about his return.”
“He has spontaneously mentioned me in the pre-op area, his question was, ‘When can I train?’ And he has asked me every time, when I see him on my rounds, he asks: ‘Will I be able to train? When can I train?’ And I have always indicated to him that he should be able train.”
The 38- year-old former champ’s age will not hinder his healing process what-so-ever and Silva should be able to start training again within six to nine months. In fact, Silva is already up an on crutches after having his leg placed in a posterior splint.
Silva is in for a long and hard road to recovery, but within a few weeks he should be able to put some weight on his leg. Silva will then begin rehabilitation to rebuild and strengthen his muscle and tissue. First he will focus on repairing his knee and ankle before starting weight baring rehabilitation.
Silva will likely spend the next fews days in the hospital as most patients who suffer from these kinds of injuries do. With the former champ asking how quickly he can train we can have high hopes that Silva may someday return to his former glory, but with an injury like this only time will tell.
Tags: Anderson Silva