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Tiger Woods' ACL Surgery: FAQ

Woods to Get ACL Reconstruction and Expects to Miss the Rest of the PGA Season

Do you think he tried to come back too fast after that arthroscopic surgery in April?

Mishra: No, I don't know for sure, but he knew what he had -- it sounds like he knew he had an ACL tear and made a conscious decision not to get it done and now he's going to have to do the bigger procedure, which actually in the long run may be better for him.

McCulloch: It's hard to know what he had done [in April]. If he had a meniscus tear and the torn part was removed, then typically we let patients walk on it right away. They're off crutches in a few days, and they can usually return to sports around the six-week mark. So his timing would have been appropriate for that. In his case, it's different because he's had a torn ligament as well, so he may have developed new problems or new injuries in the knee related to that.

Is this an injury that an elite athlete could come all the way back from?

McCulloch: Yes. This is a very common injury in general and in professional sports. There are over 100,000 ACL reconstructions performed per year. The general success rates of patients rating their knee as good to excellent are in the 90th percentile. There are several instances of other professional athletes who have returned to the highest level of competition after this, and given Tiger's demonstrated resolve and focus, I have no doubt that he will return fully.

Mishra: I think, as a fan, that he can come back and that he didn't do anything permanent to make him less stable to have a long career. That will only be known by Tiger and his doctor.

People can come back from an ACL reconstruction and have done that in many, many other sports at elite levels. So I have no doubt that he'll be back at the same level -- which is to win the U.S. Open -- or better.

What does the ACL do?

McCulloch: The ACL is the anterior cruciate ligament. It's a ligament that goes between the thigh bone and leg bone in the knee. The role of the ACL is to help to control abnormal motion at the knee. When the ACL is torn, the leg has a tendency to slip forward and to rotate in an abnormal fashion, which can give people a sense of instability, as if their knee will buckle on them.

At the time of an ACL injury, the leg slips forward and because of that, you can sustain a tear of the meniscus, which is a protective cartilage that sits between bones. Approximately 40% to 50% of patients will sustain a meniscus tear at the time of the ACL injury.

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