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GMA's health condition better after 3rd spine surgery

- Aie Balagtas See -

MANILA, Philippines - The health condition of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has remarkably improved a month since she underwent a third operation on the spine, her doctors announced yesterday.

In a medical bulletin, the doctors of Arroyo at the St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) said Arroyo “no longer” suffers from neck pain and her halo vest – the metal contraption which she initially wore to immobilize her neck and head – had been removed three weeks ago.

According to Dr. Mario Ver, Arroyo’s orthopedic surgeon, the former president has also stopped complaining of shooting pain through her arms and hands, and feels no more weakness or numbness in her upper extremities – her original complaints before operation.

Arroyo underwent her post surgery consultation on Tuesday morning, nearly two months after she went under the knife for the dislodged bone implants on her cervical spine.

Arroyo first underwent spine surgery on July 29 to address her pinched nerve in the neck.

Four of her cervical vertebra were replaced with titanium implants, until these were dislodged by what doctors initially thought was an infection.

She underwent a second surgery to repair the implants but the reconstruction failed after the doctors found that her calcium levels dropped and caused the implant displacement.

Her third surgery last Aug. 23 was considered successful after the doctors were able to reconstruct the dislodged implants.

The reconstruction involved the installation of a seven-centimeter long “bone mesh cage” in the front portion of Arroyo’s cervical spine. The cage, which looks like a tube with grills, was filled with bone graft from Arroyo’s pelvic bones necessary for fusion or bone growth.

The doctors said the re-alignment of the spine has since been stable.

“There is no loosening, dislodgement or interruption of the implant,” yesterday’s bulletin read.

Dr. Bernie Laya, the hospital’s director for institute of radiology, also said that there is “early evidence” of bone growth in the operated spine (C3 to C7) already taking place.

Her halo vest has also been replaced with a “less rigid neck brace.”

She also takes supplements to ensure good bone healing.

The lawmaker continues to suffer from a rare condition called hypoparathyroidism that makes her deficient in calcium, magnesium and vitamin D that prevents her bones from healing well.

Medical treatment abroad

Former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo thanked the doctors for the care given to his wife, particularly during her confinement at SLMC. He also expressed gratitude for those who prayed for her.

He, however, told The STAR she still needs to seek medical treatment abroad since there is no specialist in the country for hypoparathyroidism.

“We have no specialists here but there are some abroad,” Mr. Arroyo said in a telephone interview.

Ma. Elena Bautista-Horn, spokesperson for the lawmaker, said even her medications for her condition are imported from the US because of the rarity of the ailment.

– With Paolo Romero, Aurea Calica

ARROYO

AUREA CALICA

DOCTORS

DR. BERNIE LAYA

DR. MARIO VER

ELENA BAUTISTA-HORN

GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO

JOSE MIGUEL ARROYO

MEDICAL CENTER

MR. ARROYO

PAMPANGA REP

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