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U.S. defense chief Rumsfeld has shoulder surgery to repair torn rotator cuff

U.S. defense chief Rumsfeld has shoulder surgery to repair torn rotator cuff

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday to repair a torn rotator cuff, officials said.
Eric Ruff, the Pentagon press secretary, said Rumsfeld, 74, had the surgery on his left shoulder at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. He described it as elective surgery scheduled weeks in advance.
Rumsfeld did not undergo general anesthesia for the procedure, Ruff said. Nonetheless the defense secretary transferred to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England his responsibility for determining how to respond should a potentially hostile aircraft enter U.S. airspace. That responsibility is related to the combat air patrols that have been flown regularly over U.S. airspace since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
After the nearly two-hour operation, Rumsfeld was resting at the hospital, Ruff said.
"He's fine. He's recovering," the spokesman said.
The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons that help stabilize and move the shoulder. Each of the four tendons connects a muscle from the shoulder blade to the upper part of the arm bone, known as the humerus.
Tears in the rotator cuff can be caused by injury or by weakening of the tendon from wear and tear. Ruff said Rumsfeld's cuff tear was caused by an old athletic injury.
Tears in the rotator cuff can be caused by injury or by weakening of the tendon from wear and tear. Ruff said Rumsfeld's cuff tear was caused by an old athletic injury. Rumsfeld, who is right-handed, wrestled in college and still is an avid squash player.
Dr. Frederick A. Matsen III, chairman of the Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at the University of Washington, wrote in a recent article about repairing rotator cuff tears that generally after surgery the shoulder should not be used with the elbow away from the side for three months. During that period the patient "needs to plan on being less functional than usual," Matsen wrote.
In July 2002, Rumsfeld had three hours of surgery on his left hand to correct a problem caused by arthritis at the base of his thumb.
Rumsfeld is under fire from Democrats in Congress over his handling of the Iraq war. In a letter released Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and 10 other congressional party leaders urged President George W. Bush to consider changing the Pentagon's civilian leadership.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush would not replace Rumsfeld. "It's not going to happen," he said.