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Sen. Ted Kennedy Out of Brain Surgery

Kennedy's Brain Surgery 'Successful,' Says Duke University Doctor
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 2, 2008 -- Sen. Edward Kennedy's brain surgery, done this morning at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. to treat Kennedy's brain cancer, was "successful," Kennedy's doctor says.

Here is the statement from Duke neurosurgeon Allan Friedman, MD: "I am pleased to report that Senator Kennedy's surgery was successful and accomplished our goals. Senator Kennedy was awake during the resection, and should therefore experience no permanent neurological affects from the surgery. The surgery lasted roughly three and a half hours and is just the first step in Senator Kennedy's treatment plan. After a brief recuperation, he will begin targeted radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital and chemotherapy treatment. I hope that everyone will join us in praying for Senator Kennedy to have an uneventful and robust recovery."

A resection removes the tumor, but experts say the type of tumor Kennedy has likely can't be totally removed by surgery.

Before the operation, Kennedy's office released a statement noting that Kennedy will spend about a week recovering at Duke University Medical Center. Kennedy will return to Massachusetts General Hospital, where his tumor was diagnosed, for radiation treatments and chemotherapy.

Kennedy, 76, has a type of brain tumor called a malignant glioma. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital announced Kennedy's brain cancer diagnosis on May 20. The next day, Kennedy was discharged from Massachusetts General Hospital.

Since then, brain cancer survivors who have dealt with similar types of brain cancer have encouraged Kennedy to remain hopeful.

In his presurgery statement, Kennedy said he is "deeply grateful" to everyone who has expressed support "as I tackle this new and unexpected health challenge." Kennedy also says he looks forward to returning to the U.S. Senate and "doing everything I can to help elect Barack Obama as our next president."

Kennedy's Brain Surgery

WebMD spoke with two experts about Kennedy's brain surgery while the operation was still under way.

  • Deborah Heros, MD, associate professor of clinical neurology and neuro-oncology at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine
  • Eugene S. Flamm, MD, professor and chairman, department of neurosurgery, Montefiore Medical Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York

Heros and Flamm aren't treating Kennedy.

What does "targeted surgery" involve?

Heros: Targeted surgery is kind of a nonspecific term. If the purpose of the surgery is to achieve a maximum resection [removing as much of the tumor as possible]; oftentimes the surgery is performed while the patient is awake, so they can monitor the speech and avoid impairing his ability to understand speech and speak. ... Also, they can examine him during the procedure to make sure they do not cause motor weakness.

We know that we cannot totally resect these tumors because of the rootlets of tumors invading or infiltrating the brain tissue. ... There is evidence that if the tumor can be maximally resected [removed as much as possible], that may increase the chance of longer survival and better result from treatment.

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