WASHINGTON – Surgery to remove an inflamed gall bladder from Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Baltimore, was “successful and uneventful” and the senator hoped to spend the weekend resting at home, an aide said Friday.
But it was too soon to know whether Mikulski would be well enough to participate when the Senate reconvenes late next week in President Clinton’s impeachment trial.
“She is balancing responsibilities. She is trying to be responsible about her health and to be responsible about her duties as a senator,” said Mona Miller, a spokeswoman for Mikulski. “In the end, it may work out.”
Doctors at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, where Mikulski’s hour-long surgery was performed Friday morning, would not discuss her case.
But physicians familiar with the procedure said it is entirely possible that Mikulski will be back in the Senate next week.
Dr. Roger Theodore, attending surgeon at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, said patients may feel pain in their abdomen and shoulder while recovering from gall bladder surgery, but most are ready to go back to work within a week.
“By Thursday, I think she (Mikulski) will be all go,” he said.
Aides to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said Friday that Mikulski has to be present to vote and that “other than that we will make every effort to accommodate her needs” in the chamber.
Mikulski consulted with Daschle on Thursday afternoon, two days after her doctor told her she would have to have her gall bladder removed within 10 days.
She left for Baltimore Thursday evening, when “it became apparent she would be undergoing surgery” Friday, Miller said.
Mikulski was hospitalized Tuesday with flu-like symptoms that were later attributed to an inflamed gall bladder.
The gall bladder, which is about the size of a small pear, is most commonly removed through the navel during laparoscopic surgery, a 45- to 60-minute procedure during which three to four tubes are inserted into the abdomen.
Between 600,000 and 700,000 Americans have their gall bladders removed every year in a procedure that has a survival rate of 98 to 99 percent, said Dr. John Flowers, director of laparoscopic surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Mikulski “regretted” missing votes Tuesday and Thursday, Miller said, but knew that had she voted “it would not have changed the outcome.”