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Dr. John Torres on Tiger Woods' injuries: 'The big concern was amputation'

As of Wednesday morning, the famous golfer was "responsive and recovering in his hospital room," his reps said in a statement Tuesday night.
/ Source: TODAY

Tiger Woods is recovering Wednesday morning after undergoing surgery to address the multiple fractures and injuries he sustained to his leg, foot and ankle in a one-car rollover crash in California on Tuesday.

NBC News' medical correspondent Dr. John Torres weighed in on the athlete's prognosis on TODAY Wednesday, based on a Tuesday night statement from the chief medical officer at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where Woods is being treated.

Responding to the part of the statement that explains the famous golfer had "comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones" in the lower leg, Torres said, "It doesn't sound good, and it's not good for his recovery."

"Comminuted basically means that bone was broken in multiple parts. It was not just a clean fracture," Torres continued. "When they go in surgically, they have to repair all those pieces, piece them all back together, make sure it's stable."

He added that UCLA's statement indicates Woods' fractures had "broken through the skin," which leads to "a high degree of possibility of infection, not just to the skin but to the bone itself."

"That's when you can start having complications," Torres explained, adding that the multiple fractures and bones breaking through the skin requires "a lot of surgery to get that bone back to where it's supposed to be and get that bone stable."

According to Torres, Woods' leg injuries are "a true (emergency)" because "pressure starts building up because of swelling in that part of the leg, and it builds up to such a high point, it cuts off circulation, and it causes nerve damage if it's not taken care of quickly."

"So what surgeons do is they go in and basically release that pressure by opening up the muscle, exposing it to the outside so that it has a way to relieve the pressure, and that lets the circulation flow, that lets the nerve not be damaged."

"The big concern was amputation because if he doesn't get that done quickly, and by quickly, I mean within an hour or so, he could be looking at an amputation of that leg," Torres added.

He estimated that Woods has "around six weeks of recovery just from the fractures," but the injuries to his foot and ankle could take even longer.

"(Woods is) going to get the usual post-recovery from a fracture, muscle atrophy, having to go back and learn how to walk again to make sure he builds up that muscle," Torres explained. "But if he had to get that ankle fused or if he had any big procedures done to that ankle, they're going to limit mobility. That's going to take longer to recover, and he truly may never get that mobility back he had before, which could definitely impact the way he plays."

Around 7 a.m. Tuesday PST, Woods' Genesis GV80 crashed on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes, NBC News reported. He was conscious and in stable condition when he was removed from the car, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said earlier Tuesday at a news conference.

One of the responding officers, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, spoke to TODAY's Craig Melvin about what he saw at the scene.

"I don't think he was aware of how gravely he was injured at the time. It could be a mixture of adrenaline, it could've been shock," Gonzalez told TODAY. "Again it was very quick, the moment that I arrived from the moment that he rolled over, so I don't know if he had time to fully assess his injuries."