WASHINGTON -- Senator Tim Johnson was experiencing post-surgery swelling in his brain yesterday, but his doctors said his recovery was still encouraging. They said he would remain hospitalized until the swelling went down.
The South Dakota Democrat, who suffered a brain hemorrhage Wednesday, remained in critical but stable condition yesterday, just short of three weeks before the new Senate is to convene with his party holding control by a single vote.
The timing of his return is uncertain, but Democrats would still be in control of the Senate if his recovery period extends into the new session.
The surgery has been described as successful, relieving pressure on the 59-year-old senator's brain and stopping the bleeding.
"Considering his initial presentation, his progress is encouraging," Dr. Anthony Caputy, chairman of the George Washington University Hospital department of neurosurgery, said in a statement released by Johnson's office.
As a precaution, physicians placed a removable MRI-compatible filter in Johnson's vena cava, a large vein leading into his heart, to reduce the risk of a blood clot going to his lungs, said Dr. Anthony Venbrux, a cardiovascular specialist who participated in the surgery.
Johnson's doctors also disclosed that when he arrived at the hospital, he was feeling weakness on his right side. They said yesterday that that condition probably will require physical therapy as part of his recovery.
Johnson was rushed to the hospital at midday Wednesday after becoming disoriented and stammering during a conference call with reporters. He was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, a condition that causes arteries and veins to grow abnormally large, become tangled, and sometimes burst. The condition often is present from birth.
Caputy said post-operative swelling is routine after a brain hemorrhage.
"Much like a bruise, it takes time to heal," he said.
Johnson's office said the senator had had several CT scans since the surgery.
"His most recent CT scan shows that the pressure has been relieved from his brain and there is no further bleeding," said Dr. Vivek Deshmukh, who headed the surgical team.
Senator Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat , visited Johnson yesterday and told reporters outside the hospital that the senator was sedated.