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First lady's neck surgery called a success

September 09, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — First Lady Laura Bush underwent surgery Saturday to relieve pain from pinched nerves in her neck. The White House said the procedure was successful.

The problem kept her from joining President Bush on a trip to Australia this week for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Sydney.

The first lady underwent the 2 1/2 -hour procedure at George Washington University Hospital. The surgical team was led by Dr. Anthony J. Caputy, chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and co-director of the Neurological Institute, in consultation with Dr. Richard Tubb, the president's doctor.

Bush returned to the White House in the afternoon and was said to be resting comfortably. She had no public events scheduled through Monday. It was not clear how much time she would need to recuperate.

"Every patient is different, so there's no kind of set time frame. She will certainly ease back into her schedule," said Sally McDonough, the first lady's spokeswoman.

While en route from Sydney to Hawaii, the president telephoned his wife at the hospital and they spoke for two to three minutes, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

Bush told her husband the operation was a success.

The president, in Hawaii for Air Force One to refuel, told reporters his wife was "doing great."

"Her spirits are good. I told her I'm looking forward to having breakfast with her," he said. The president is expected to arrive in Washington about dawn today. McDonough said Friday that doctors planned to use a minimally invasive procedure to remove pressure from the nerve by enlarging the passageway where the nerve sits near the spinal column.

Bush had been in discomfort since injuring a nerve in her neck and shoulder while hiking earlier this year.

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