GMA surgery on Friday; docs ask for prayers

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 28 2011 01:21 PM | Updated as of Jul 29 2011 12:58 AM

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Doctors of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appealed for prayers as she undergoes surgery on her cervical spine at 7 a.m. on Friday morning to address her pinched nerve .

Dr. Juliet Gopez Cervantes said the decision was reached after a doctors’ conference with Arroyo and her family.

Cervantes said the decision was reached as a definitive solution after medical management consisting of rehabilitation and medicine failed to address its deterioration. It has reportedly been giving her severe pain and neurologic deficit.

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

Cervantes said the procedure will last 4 to 5 hours after which she will be brought to the surgical intensive care unit (ICU).

Cervantes explained that 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. She said they hope to return Arroyo to her regular room within a week.

Cervantes said they hope to return Arroyo to her regular room within a week. “We will be able to transfer her to her regular room after one day,” she said.

Arroyo’s main orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Mario Ver, will lead a team of at least 10 doctors who will work on the procedure.

Ver explained the disease deteriorated after years of conservative treatment.

Doctors plan to decompress the affected nerve. They hope to use implants to reconstruct the affected spine.

Ver hopes the neurologic deficit and numbness will be recovered.

Ver said Arroyo’s pinched nerve affects nerve roots.

“So the plan is for the decompression of 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. This will be done under intraop spinal cord monitoring where we would be using SSEP and NEP to monitor the entire the motor and sensory so this going to more or less make sure that the cord will be going to be patent and not damaged,” said the orthopedic surgeon.

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

Ver said the implants will be titanium material and could cost a few hundreds of thousands of pesos.

Cervantes said Arroyo has been advised not to receive visitors anymore.

Cervantes herself appealed for prayers for the former President saying it is a very difficult procedure.

“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 your prayers and we will see to it you will be posted if not tomorrow afternoon, the following day,” said Cervantes.

Arroyo ally and family friend, Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo, brought some 30 Candaba barangay captains to visit with Arroyo earlier today.

The barangay captains waved to Arroyo from afar since she was already being prepared for surgery.

Pelayo said that as a friend, he himself had reservations about the surgery considering the risk. His friend says it should be done in the US.

However, Pelayo said it is the family’s decision on when and where to have the surgery as he is not a member of the family.

Pelayo said all the members of the Arroyo family were at the conference, which include sons Mikey and Dato and daughter Luli.