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Karunanidhi undergoes spinal surgery

The 84-year-old DMK President and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Mr M Karunanidhi, underwent a delicate spine surgery at the private Shri Ramachandra Medical Centre hospital in Porur and is expected to return to “full activity” in a month’s time, reports MR Venkatesh.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2009 05:49 IST
MR Venkatesh

The 84-year-old DMK President and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Mr M Karunanidhi,on Wednesday underwent a delicate spine surgery at the private Shri Ramachandra Medical Centre (SRMC) hospital in Porur near Chennai and is expected to return to “full activity” in a month’s time.

A team of specialists led by the Internationally renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Arvind Jaiswal, Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, AIIMS, New Delhi, and Dr SSK Marthandam, Chief Orthopedic Surgeon, SRMC, operated on the DMK patriarch’s back this morning in a surgical procedure medically termed “lumbar canal decompression”.

Mr. Karunanidhi, who missed the Republic Day Parade for the first time this year in his long career as the State’s Chief Minister for the fifth time now, was admitted to SRMC on Jan 26 after his “low back pain” had turned acute. The surgery lasted for three hours. The Chief Minister “took it well” and is “now doing fine”, the doctors told reporters later.

The DMK leader had been suffering from “disc compression or degeneration” due to the ageing process. Due to the “severe (disc) degeneration”, the nerve roots, a very delicate structure that are like cable wires, had got “tightly constricted and had to be relaxed or decompressed,” Dr. Jaiswal said after the surgery.

At a crowded press conference at the SRMC this afternoon, in the presence of the DMK’s senior-most Minister, Prof. K. Anbazhagan and Party Treasurer, M.K.Stalin and the DMK Chief’s close relatives, Dr. Jaiswal said the “nerve roots need to be protected in the spinal canal.” But when the canal starts getting “narrower and narrower”, that causes severe pain and hence the need for “decompression”, he explained.

What the surgery has done is to remove some “soft tissues” from the affected area and “parts of bone”, Dr. Marthandam chipped in to add. Neither any graft, bone taken from any other part of the Chief Minister’s body, nor any metallic piece was replaced there, he made clear. This medically implied that the healing process will be little longer.

Dr. Marthandam said that the Chief Minister had been suffering from “low back pain” for quite a few years now. It had turned “very acute” recently. Initially, SRMC doctors tried to cure him of his pain in various ways including physiotherapy and administering some injections including an ‘epidural injection’ at one stage. But the pain did not subside and after consultations with Dr. Jaiswal, surgery was decided upon as there was no other option, he added.

Mr. Karunanidhi’s back-pain problem had been aggravated by the fact that he could neither sleep during the nights nor take rest during the day, Dr. Marthandam pointed out, even as anxious relatives including the DMK Chief’s grand-nephew and former Union Minister, Mr. Dayanidhi Maran and his elder brother Kalanidhi Maran looked on.

The DMK leader will be in the ICU for the next 48 hours and he should be discharged from the hospital in another ten days, Dr. Marthandam said to a query and emphasized that returning to full active life would take some time.

Asked whether Mr. Karunanidhi would be able to take the stress of another full-fledged election campaign for the coming Lok Sabha polls, Dr. Marthandam said, “the medical advice is to avoid rigorous travel”. But the Chief Minister should be “fit enough for a campaign”, he added with caution though.

Profoundly thanking the doctors’ team for having successfully undertaken a very delicate surgery, Prof. Anbazhagan expressed the hope that the Chief Minister would return in fine fettle as early as possible.