Surgery for President as signs worsen

By Michael Warren

Cristina Fernandez.
Cristina Fernandez.

Argentina's President will undergo surgery to remove blood between her brain and skull that has been causing new and worrying symptoms, her physicians said.

The President's doctors said they had ordered President Cristina Fernandez to rest for a month after discovering the subdural haematoma - a clot inside her skull pressuring her brain and causing headaches. In some patients, such blood clots reabsorb by themselves over time.

But the situation became more urgent after Fernandez felt a weakness and numbness in her upper left arm on Monday, according to doctors at the Fundacion Favaloro, one of Argentina's top cardiology hospitals.

"Facing these symptoms, the team decided on surgical intervention," the hospital's doctors said yesterday.

The surgery involves drilling small holes through the skull to remove old blood. In a three-paragraph statement released on Sunday that raised more questions than answers, her doctors attributed the injury to a still unexplained blow to her head she suffered on August 12.

That would have been the day after a primary vote showed a significant drop in support for ruling party candidates, despite her intensive campaigning.

As the 60-year-old leader returned to the hospital for pre-surgical examinations yesterday, Vice-President Amado Boudou made no mention of the planned operation. He said in a speech that top officials would run the country as a team "while she gets the rest she deserves".

Boudou did not say whether Fernandez would formally delegate her executive powers during the surgery or afterwards during her recovery.

Blood clots on the brain

*Symptoms: Depending on the size and
location, a haematoma may cause
confusion, memory loss, difficulty speaking, swallowing or walking; drowsiness, headaches, seizures or weakness of the arms, legs or face.
*Diagnosis: Problem can be discovered when doctors check patient's balance, co-ordination, mental functions, sensation and strength.
*Treatment: Surgery may be necessary to reduce or prevent permanent brain damage. This may include drilling small holes in skull to relieve pressure and drain fluid.
*Prognosis: Between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of patients have significant improvement after surgery, but recovery can be prolonged and incomplete.

- AP

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