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MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 3 - 5:50 p.m.) Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was discharged from the Makati Medical Center on Friday even as her physician said the dislodged titanium plate implant in her spine is aggressively moving towards her esophagus and airway, threatening to block her food and air passages. Asked how urgently she needed corrective surgery, cardiologist Dr. Roberto Anastacio replied, “Yesterday.”
Anastacio said he had handed Arroyo the discharge order before he called a news conference to discuss the findings of the examination he conducted on the former president in May and August this year.
Elena Bautista-Horn, spokesperson of Arroyo, who is now second district representative of Pampanga, said Arroyo had indeed left the hospital and was on her way to her home province to visit constituents victimized by recent floods.
Anastacio read portions of Arroyo’s medical bulletin and also showed images of a second Quantum Ct-scan conducted on her, which he said showed "the development of atrophy in two-and-a-half months as a sign of deterioration or complication of (the) aggressive protrusion of the upper and lower titanium plates on the nerve supply of the air and food pathways."
The first scan was done in May, which was followed by a second CT-Scan in August. He said that comparison of both results manifested the “aggressive progress of the protrusion of both the lower and upper titanium plates” implanted on Arroyo, which not only threatens her air and food passages, but is affecting her voice box as well, according to Anastacio.
He said the “progressive mechanical motion of the plates” may also be affecting the condition of the heart, referring to his August 11 medical bulletin that showed Arroyo had “coronary artery obstruction of her proximal right coronary artery and left descending coronary artery.
“So I made a conclusion that this 65-year-old female is suffering from a very dangerous situation. There’s no option but to correct it,” he added.
Saying Arroyo can travel, Anastacio said his patient urgently needed treatment abroad, where it is not just the doctor-specialists who are needed, but entire medical teams with experience in such a sensitive procedure, and with access to a wide range of equipment.
He stressed, though that Arroyo’s condition should not immobilize her, pointing out that it would even be better if she remained mobile.
“That[ procedure] cannot be done here in the country. It is not the doctor alone that is important . . . what is important are the group of specialists, the people behind, so that the product that we’d like to produce will come out alive. We need a good [number] of neuro-physiologists, not only in one specialization, but in multiple areas so that while she’s being examined they are testing,” he said.
“They will do nothing but examine the nerves while she’s moving; the surgeon alone cannot work with just his hands, no matter how skillful, he must have access to a research and development laboratory; those things will guide the doctor in making the final decision, so it’s not enough to have just the doctor on hand,” he added.
Asked anew about the progress of the protrusion of the plates into Arroyo’s air passageway, he said, “That is a very relative question because maybe tomorrow this may happen.”
Anastacio said as early as May he made the recommendation for Arroyo’s treatment abroad because of his findings in his first CT-Scan, “[but the patient got scared]. Now she has no choice but to follow” because the risk of sudden death of the mechanical movement of the plates is “very high.”
Teams of specialists who can handle Arroyo’s case may be found in Austria and the United States. Anastacio said hospitals in these countries have teams of specialists who treat people who have broken bones because of F1 races or skiing competitions.
“These doctors are used to doing repetitive reconstruction,” he added.
Anastacio traced the choking sensation Arroyo has been feeling to the surgical procedures, including the titanium implants, that she underwent last year to correct a spinal condition.
He said this “could mean that the nerves have been affected (by) that particular procedure.”
Asked if doctors had erred in the earlier procedures done on the former President, he said, “No doctor would like to make a mistake. It’s a mechanical plate, it may have moved because of the osteoporosis or other factors.”
The latest medical bulletin said a gynecological test conducted by Dr. Maria Theresa Lopez on Arroyo showed “no discrete mass or abnormality in both breasts nor mammographic evidence of malignancy.”