NEW YORK Surgeons successfully removed fluid and scar tissue from Bill Clinton s chest cavity today, cleaning up minor complications from the former president s heart bypass operation of six months ago.
Clinton was awake and resting comfortably after four hours of surgery, said Herbert Pardes, president of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
His wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and daughter Chelsea were with him and said to be pleased with the outcome.
The surgery began at 7 a.m., about two hours after Clinton arrived in an SUV at the Manhattan hospital on a brisk winter morning.
Clinton, 58, told doctors he was looking forward to getting on with his recovery. Doctors expect him to make a full recovery, which could take anywhere from three to 10 days.
Clinton underwent heart bypass surgery in September because of clogged arteries.
Doctors described Thursday s operation as a low-risk procedure to relieve a complication that crops up in only a fraction of 1 percent of bypass patients.
The scar tissue was pressing down on Clinton s left lung, causing discomfort and reduced lung capacity.
Dr. Joshua Sonett, one of Clinton s surgeons, said at a news conference that the combination of fluid and scar tissue had decreased Clinton s lung capacity by 25 percent before the operation.
The operation typically is done either through a small incision or with a video-assisted scope inserted between the ribs. The patient is given general anesthesia.
The Secret Service, police and hospital security staff conducted a sweep of the walkways and corridors as Clinton was whisked inside through a side entrance before the operation. He arrived in an SUV that pulled inside a hospital gate, providing quick access inside.
The former president had been in Florida on Wednesday at a charity golf tournament to benefit tsunami victims. He appeared relaxed, cracking jokes about his golf game and saying he wasn t worried about the surgery.
Since his heart surgery, Clinton has presided over the opening of his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., and joined former President Bush for a public relations campaign to help raise money for the Asian tsunami victims.
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