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Surgeon: Cagle’s surgery a ‘success’

Lt. gov. underwent reconstructive procedure on his neck

POSTED: April 27, 2009 11:31 p.m.

The surgeon who operated on Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle says the procedure was a success and that his patient’s prognosis is good.

Dr. John Heller made his comments to reporters at a briefing at Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital in Tucker, where the surgery took place Monday morning.

The 43-year-old Hall County native underwent reconstructive surgery on his neck. Heller said the surgery went “according to plans.”

Heller said Cagle was “in good spirits” and could be going home today. The surgery began around 7:30 a.m. and Cagle was in the recovery room two hours later.

“Lt. Gov. Cagle underwent reconstructive surgery on his cervical spine,” Heller said, describing the affected area as midway between the shoulders and the base of the skull.

“We would anticipate his course of recovery would proceed much like anyone else’s. Surgery does take time to heal. He will know in a matter of days or weeks if it has been able to solve the problem, but it will be a matter of months before he knows if his bone grafts have healed successfully,” he said.

The surgeon said the condition is due to wear and tear and is quite common. The hospital performs about one of the procedures a day, sometimes more, Heller said.

Cagle withdrew from the governor’s race on April 15 saying he needed time to recover from the painful back and neck problem. He’d been considered a front-runner to win the GOP nomination for governor next year. Instead, Cagle said he’ll seek re-election as lieutenant governor.

The lieutenant governor will recuperate at home in Chestnut Mountain and his chief of staff predicted no interruption in the operation of his office.


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