Medical bulletin: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo needs cheering up | Inquirer News

Medical bulletin: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo needs cheering up

/ 04:45 AM August 12, 2011

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been told of the infection that resulted in the failed follow-up surgery on her cervical spine, and “she looked sad,” according to her chief physician.

Dr. Juliet Gopez-Cervantes told reporters Thursday afternoon Arroyo needed cheering up.


“What I asked [from the medical team] … is to lift [Arroyo’s] spirit by having beautiful faces. Be cheerful enough and give her moral support,” Cervantes said, adding:

“If I were in her situation, I’d feel something also. And it will affect her body. We do not have direct evidence, but [stress] contributes [to her condition].


“Reality is reality, but at this time, everything must be nice, including our faces and our words.”

The former President who is now the representative of Pampanga’s second district has been slapped with five plunder suits. Her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, is suspected of being the owner of the used helicopters purchased by the Philippine National Police at brand-new prices.

They are both on the Bureau of Immigration’s watch list, meaning they cannot leave the country without a clearance.

External factors

While there was no objective way to assess Arroyo’s immune system, certain external factors that came into play might have contributed to the state of Arroyo’s health.

She said stress, whether “stress of surgery, emotionally, and mentally,” might have made Arroyo more prone to infection.

Arroyo’s husband noticed that she had been losing appetite in the past few weeks despite her projection that she was well, according to Cervantes.


She said Arroyo’s loss of appetite was manifested in recent laboratory test results.

Cervantes said doctors at St. Luke’s Medical Center had examined the circumstances starting from the day of Arroyo’s admission for her initial surgery to her discharge last week, and saw no indication that she had been exposed to harmful bacteria there.

Thus, only Arroyo’s immediate family members can see her, and visitors are strictly banned for the time being to prevent her exposure to more infection, the doctor said.

Results in 2 days

Cervantes said the results of bacteria cultures to identify the source of Arroyo’s infection were expected in two days.

But despite failing to install another titanium plate as planned, the team of surgeons managed to put Arroyo’s neck on external support, Cervantes said.

She said Arroyo remained under close observation at the hospital’s coronary care unit.

“She’s already conscious [but] there was still the effect of anesthesia since [Wednesday] night, so we opted to put her continuously on a ventilator,” the doctor said.

She said Arroyo was to be taken off the machine later in the day.

Cervantes said the infection was being addressed with antibiotics and “aggressive management,” and that she hoped to put the patient back on the operating table in three weeks.

Meanwhile, Arroyo’s neck is being rendered “immobile” by a halo vest, according to her orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Mario Ver.

On the website of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States, a halo vest is defined as “a brace that is used to immobilize and protect the cervical spine and neck after surgery… [It is] to be left on at all times because [it] will be needed in the event of an emergency.”

Arroyo will wear the vest “until such time we feel that there is already stabilization of the anterior column that got infected,” Ver said.


Doctors have achieved their objective of keeping Arroyo’s spine in place, as shown by the results of neurological tests administered on her, Ver said.

He said that up to yesterday noon, Arroyo had shown no signs of a “neurological deficit,” meaning she had full sensation in her arms.

Ver said the infection was hampering the reconstruction of Arroyo’s cervical spine because the bacteria had “an effect on the density or stability of the bone.”

“But because we’re trying to control the infection and correct everything, expect that the bone will be normalized. And eventually, we’re going to the end stage of the surgery, which is fusion,” he said.

Arroyo was earlier diagnosed with cervical spondylosis, an age-related deterioration of the cervical spine. Doctors had said that the condition was common and that not all instances required surgical intervention.

But in Arroyo’s case, conservative management of her condition, which included pain killers and physical therapy, only delayed the deterioration.

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TAGS: Bureau of Immigration’s watch list, cervical spine, Dr. Juliet Gopez-Cervantes, five plunder suits, follow-up surgery, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, infection, Jose Miguel Arroyo, titanium plate, Used helicopters
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