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Sen. Kennedy Undergoes Surgery

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy underwent surgery Friday to repair a partially blocked artery in his neck, which was discovered during routine examination of a decades-old back injury.

The hourlong procedure on his left carotid artery _ a major supplier of blood to the neck and head _ was performed at Massachusetts General Hospital by Dr. Richard Cambria, the hospital's chief of vascular surgery. The Massachusetts Democrat suffered no complications and the senator was expected to be released in several days, Kennedy's office said

"As part of a routine evaluation of Senator Kennedy's back and spine, MRI studies picked up an unrelated, asymptomatic blockage in the senator's left carotid artery,'' said a statement from Kennedy's Washington office. "This morning, Senator Kennedy underwent preventive surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital to remove the blockage.''

Kennedy, 75, is in relatively good health for his age, but he has been bothered by an aching back since a 1964 plane crash, which killed a pilot and one of Kennedy's aides. Then-Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind., who was traveling with Kennedy, pulled him from the wreckage but Kennedy suffered a back injury, punctured lung, broken ribs and internal bleeding.

Because of the persistent pain, the senator often leans on a wall or sits on a stool when he otherwise would be expected to stand for an extended period.

Kennedy had a routine back examination on Oct. 4, followed by an MRI exam at Cape Cod Hospital on Tuesday. That night, doctors told him of the arterial blockage.

Kennedy campaigned Wednesday in the Merrimack Valley for Niki Tsongas, a Democrat seeking the 5th Congressional District seat in a special election next week, before heading to Massachusetts General for additional tests.

Kennedy is the lone surviving son in a famed political family. His eldest brother, Joseph, was killed in a World War II airplane crash, another sibling, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in 1963, while his remaining brother, Robert, was assassinated in 1968.

Kennedy, considered a liberal lion in the Senate, was re-elected in 2006. His current term ends in 2013. The senator made a failed run for the presidency in 1980.

This program aired on October 12, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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