Lt. Gov. Cagle has successful spinal surgery

Monday, April 27, 2009 9:51 AM
Last updated 4:19 PM
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TUCKER, Ga. — A surgical procedure today to correct a degenerative spinal condition in Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle's neck was considered successful and Cagle was recovering from the procedure, hospital officials said.

Dr. John Heller said there were no problems with the procedure.

"The surgery was rather of matter of fact, went according to plan," Heller said. "The lieutenant governor is recovering rather well and is in perfectly good spirits."

Heller performed the nearly two-hour operation Monday morning at Emory University Orthopaedics and Spine Hospital.

Cagle could be discharged from the hospital Tuesday morning, Heller said. It could be several days or weeks before Cagle knows if the surgery will solve the problem, which the doctor described as "painful."

A full recovery could take far longer. Heller said it could be several months before doctors know if the bone grafts used to repair the condition have healed properly.

The painful back and neck condition took Cagle out of the 2010 race for governor. He has said he'll seek re-election as lieutenant governor instead.

The 43-year-old from Gainesville had been considered a front runner to win the GOP nomination for governor next year.

When he dropped out of the race on April 15, Cagle said that he'd had pain in his left shoulder for several years but that it worsened during this year's legislative session and spread to his spine and breastbone. Eventually he began to experience paralysis in his left arm.

Heller said the ailment is because of wear and tear and is quite common. The Emory hospital performs about one of the procedures a day, sometimes more.

One he is fully recovered, Cagle should be fine to continue in his job as lieutenant governor and to hit the campaign trail, Heller said.

Cagle's Chief of Staff Bart Gobeil said the lieutenant governor would be in contact with his office during his recovery and did not expect operations would be disrupted.

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