Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to undergo delicate 5-hour surgery Friday morning | Inquirer News

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to undergo delicate 5-hour surgery Friday morning

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:42 AM July 29, 2011

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will undergo surgery Friday morning on her cervical spine that could last up to five hours.

The decision to operate was reached after a doctors’ conference with the former President and her family, according to Dr. Juliet Gopez-Cervantes, Arroyo’s main attending physician.


“The operation will take place at 7 a.m.,” Cervantes said at a press briefing.

She explained that surgery was ruled as the definitive solution after medical management failed to address the illness that has been causing Arroyo severe pain.


“We have no way but to recommend surgery because the medical management, consisting mainly of rehab and muscle relaxants, were providing help but not completely because of the recurrence,” she said.

Arroyo has been confined at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig since Monday afternoon after suffering neck pain caused by damage to her spine.

Cervantes earlier said that a team of doctors had diagnosed Arroyo with cervical spondylosis, a disease caused by the degeneration of the cervical spine, including the cushions between the neck vertebrae (cervical disks) and the joints between the bones of the cervical spine.

Spine reconstruction

Dr. Mario Ver, Arroyo’s main orthopedic surgeon, will lead a team of 10 doctors that will perform the operation. Ver said implants will be used to reconstruct the 64-year-old ex-president’s affected spine.

“The plan is for the decompression of the affected cervical nerves, roots and then do a fusion. We call this ACDF anterior cervical decompression and fusion. We will be utilizing implants, bone substitute, to be able to do this,” Ver explained.

He said the implants will be made of titanium which he said could cost “a few hundreds of thousands of pesos.”


Ver, who has been conservatively treating Arroyo’s illness for the past eight years, said her condition had deteriorated over the years.

“She has been having mainly physical therapy but the disease deteriorated significantly. A physical examination shows there’s deterioration or neurologic deficit which was the main reason for recommending surgical intervention now,” he said.

Neurologic deficit refers to weakness in shoulder, wrist and finger power or functions, the surgeon explained.

Cervantes said the procedure would last from four to five hours, following which Arroyo will be taken to the surgical intensive care unit (ICU).

But this should not be a cause for alarm, she said.

“Don’t be surprised if you hear that she is at the ICU. It’s just a normal procedure. Hospital protocol dictates that all surgery patients be brought to the ICU after surgery as a precaution, especially since she’s a former President,” Cervantes said.

“There’s a small possibility there could be problems and we hope to transfer her to a regular room after one day,” she added.

Prayers for a successful operation

The doctors appealed for prayers for a successful operation.

“We want to ask prayers of everybody, this is not a simple procedure, as mentioned by Dr. Ver. It is one of the most difficult procedures because the nerves involved are not the simple nerves, they have major functions in the movement and sensation of the arms as well as the pattern of breathing of the individual as well as other organs that might be touched and displaced a bit during actual procedure. So we are asking for your prayers,” said Cervantes.

Delicate surgery

Ver said that while they have never had any mortality since 1996, there is always a risk of infection and effect on structures because spine surgery is delicate.

“Hopefully, this will be smooth-sailing and more or less in 10 days we can expect her to be up and about,” he added.

Although she was not allowed to receive visitors, 33 village chairmen from Candaba, Pampanga visited Arroyo on Thursday.

The barangay captains came with Arroyo’s ally, Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo, who claimed that the local officials wanted to see and thank her for her support.

“They (barangay captains) waved to her (Arroyo) from afar since she was already being prepared for surgery,” Pelayo said.

Pelayo said all the Arroyo family members were at the hospital during the conference with the doctors.

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TAGS: cervical spine, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, neck arthritis, neck surgery
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