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Surgeon: Anderson Silva's 'fixable' leg injury could have led to amputation following loss at UFC 168

Dr. Steven Sanders, the man who operated on Anderson Silva's broken leg following the UFC 168 title fight against Chris Weidman, gives fight fans an update on "The Spider's" surgery and recovery time.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

This past weekend (Dec. 28, 2013) at UFC 168, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Anderson Silva suffered one of the most gruesome injuries ever seen in mixed martial arts (MMA).

In the second round of his title fight rematch against current division kingpin Chris Weidman, "The Spider's" left leg snapped in two (pictures here) after "All American" checked a hard kick from the Brazilian.

Soon thereafter, Silva dropped to floor in visible agony forcing a stoppage from referee Herb Dean.

While fight fans instantly feared Silva's fighting career would come to an end due to the injury, Dr. Steven Sanders -- the man who operated on Silva's leg in local hospital -- has given fight fans (and Anderson) hope that his days inside the cage may not be over.

Dr. Sanders explained the extent of the break and the rehabilitation process during 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."

While the injury was severe, Dr. Sanders reveals that it could have been much, much worse.

His concerns:

"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."

In addition, Dr. Sanders confirmed that Silva's age (38) would not play a factor in the amount of time it would take to make a full recovery. Furthermore, Silva will now have a titanium rod that is 11.5 millimeters in diameter in his leg to assure that he area is well and no further damage is done.

Dr. Sanders revealed that Silva is already on crutches -- something that amazed him due to the severity of the break -- and will continue to be reliant on them until his leg is strong enough to have full pressure on it. And according to Sander's, that day can't come soon enough for Silva, as he revealed that "The Spider" asked him numerous times before and after the surgery when he would be able to resume training.

The technical knockout loss is Silva's second to Weidman, the man who dethroned him earlier this year at UFC 162.

And while some fans aren't too happy with the fact that the injury forced another "L" on Silva's record, they may find solace in knowing that Anderson may have a chance to avenge those losses down the road.

If he doesn't choose to call it a career, that is.

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