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First lady’s surgery a success

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 last week for the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Sydney.

The first lady underwent the 2 1/2-hour procedure at George Washington University Hospital.

Laura 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 immediately clear how much time she would need to recuperate.

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

Laura Bush told the president the operation was a success.

Bush, in Hawaii for Air Force One to refuel, told reporters she was “doing great.”

“Her spirits are good. I told her I’m looking forward to having breakfast with her,” he said. Bush was expected to arrive in Washington about dawn today.

Sally McDonough, Laura Bush’s spokeswoman, said on 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.

The first lady had been in discomfort for some time. She injured a nerve in her neck and shoulder earlier this year while hiking and has been treated with physical therapy since. When the physical therapy did not work, doctors suggested surgery.


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