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Kennedy has surgery on blocked neck artery

WASHINGTON – Sen. Edward Kennedy, the senior Democratic senator from Massachusetts, underwent surgery Friday to clear a partially blocked artery in his neck.

Kennedy, 75, had the hour-long procedure at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, where surgeons removed a blockage from his left carotid artery, which supplies blood to the head and neck.

Kennedy’s doctors called the operation “routine” and “uneventful.” They added that Kennedy was resting comfortably, enjoying ice cream and ginger ale and planned to watch the Boston Red Sox baseball game Friday.

“The senator is expected to make a full recovery,” said Dr. Richard Cambria, who heads the hospital’s division of vascular and endovascular surgery.

The procedure, known as a carotid endarterectomy, involves making a small incision in the neck and removing plaque or other blockage.

“This was a very high-grade blockage,” said Cambria, who performed the procedure.

He estimated that the blockage reduced the diameter of Kennedy’s artery by about 70 percent.

Kennedy had exhibited no symptoms of the blockage, which doctors discovered Oct. 4 during a routine evaluation of his back and spine. Kennedy has had back problems since a plane crash in 1964. Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, studies detected the mass in his artery.

Kennedy will return to his normal schedule in Washington and Massachusetts in a week, his staff said.