John Murtha's condition is 'stable' and 'improving' as he battles infection in ICU, sources say
Updated 5:48 p.m.
By Carol D. Leonnig and Paul Kane
A day after his office announced he had been admitted to an Arlington hospital with gallbladder surgery complications, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), the powerful chairman of the House military appropriations committee, remained in intensive care battling a serious infection, according to two Democratic sources.
Murtha, 77, was admitted to Virginia Hospital Center's intensive care unit after having his gallbladder removed at Bethesda Naval Hospital last week.
According to two Democratic sources familiar with his treatment, Murtha was in "grave" condition on Sunday, suffering from an infection that appeared to result from his surgery. By Wednesday, however, he appeared to be responding well to antibiotics, and his condition was improving.
Murtha suffered from gallbladder pain and problems in December and arranged to have a laparascopic surgery to remove it in January. But he began feeling ill after the surgery and was readmitted to a nearby hospital.
"The only update that our office can provide at this time is that Congressman Murtha's condition remains stable," Murtha spokesman Matthew Mazonkey said today. "We will provide more information as it becomes available."
Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), a Murtha ally, told reporters Wednesday that Democrats had spoken with the veteran lawmaker's family. "What we've heard is positive," said Larson, the No. 4 ranking member of Democratic leadership. "Mr. Murtha seems to be improving."
Patients who undergo gallbladder surgery can face significant tenderness and recovery issues, but serious complications are rare -- occurring in as few as 0.6 to 2.2 percent of cases.
One potential complication related to the kind of surgery that Murtha underwent results from accidental cutting of the common bile ducts. These nicks can lead to bile backing up in the blood stream and serious infections.
Such nicks and accidental cuts are more common in laparascopic surgery, in which the surgeon relies on video imaging to "see" the patient's gallbladder.
Web Politics Editor
February 3, 2010; 3:19 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Capitol Briefing , Cast of Characters
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