Corbett to Undergo “Routine” Back Surgery Monday

Lt. Gov. Cawley to serve as temporary acting governor

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is scheduled to undergo back surgery Monday in Pittsburgh, his office said.

Corbett's operation at Allegheny General Hospital is part of his treatment for spinal stenosis. He will spend a day or two in the hospital, but expects to return to Harrisburg by the end of next week, his office said Friday.

While Corbett, 61, is under anesthesia, Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, of Bucks County, will serve as acting governor.

Spinal stenosis, most commonly caused by aging, is a narrowing of the spinal canal that can lead to persistent pain and decreased physical activity.

The surgery is being performed by Dr. Mark A. Fye, an orthopedic spinal specialist, and Dr. Patrick J. DeMeo, an orthopedic surgeon. Updates on the operation and Corbett's condition will be provided at a news briefing following the surgery.

News of the surgery came as debate over the governor's state budget plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 is heating up in the Legislature. His proposed spending cuts for higher education
and public schools, as well as his opposition to imposing a new tax on the booming natural-gas drilling industry, have drawn criticism from some of his fellow Republicans, who control both the House and Senate.

Corbett decided about a week ago to have the surgery, said his spokesman, Kevin Harley. He underwent a series of tests in preparation for the operation, but is otherwise considered to be in
excellent health, the governor's office said.

"The analysis of his doctor was the time to do it was now," Harley said. "He should feel 100 percent better."

During last year's gubernatorial primary campaign, Corbett was the only one of the six candidates who refused an Associated Press request to provide a written statement from his doctor about his
physical fitness to serve as governor.

However, his campaign confirmed news reports that Corbett suffered a mild heart attack on Valentine's Day in 1997 and underwent an angioplasty to clear a blocked artery. He had felt chest pains and drove himself to a Pittsburgh hospital, where he was admitted for three or four days, a campaign spokeswoman said last year.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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