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April 16th, 2008
10:41 AM ET

Tiger Woods in surgery

by Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent

Tiger Woods had arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday. You may be surprised to know that it was his third operation on his left knee. The first was done in 1994 for a benign tumor and the second was done in 2002, to remove a cyst and drain fluid from around one of his ligaments. Yesterday's surgery was to correct cartilage damage. Now Tiger will undergo a few weeks of rehabilitation and stay off the golf course for 4 – 6 weeks, according to his website.

Couple of things I learned that I wanted to share. First, watch this video of Tiger's swing.  (Watch Video)  Tiger Woods is a right handed golfer and as a result, he places a lot of pressure on his left knee. He has a particularly aggressive move through the swing and the left knee absorbs a lot of that strain. So, even at the young age of 32, Woods has already had significant wear and tear on his knees.

The second thing I saw was a study from the New England Journal of Medicine.  I have attached it here if you want to read it (See Study), but let me summarize. They had three groups of patients under the age of 75, who all had knee pain and osteoarthritis. One group received arthroscopic removal of cartilage, another group had arthroscopic surgery where the knee joint was flushed with an irrigation fluid and the third group simply had incisions on their knee with no actual operation. Here is the amazing thing: the groups who had surgery did no better or worse than those who did not.

I was wondering what you thought of this study. Is this a "placebo" effect or do you think the operations were just not as effective as once thought?..

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.