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Argentine leader to undergo head surgery

President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina suffered a blood clot in her skull that put pressure on her brain, doctors say. Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s president will undergo surgery on Tuesday to remove blood between her brain and skull, her physicians said.

The president’s doctors said they had ordered Cristina Fernandez on Saturday to rest for a month after discovering the subdural hematoma — a clot inside her skull that was pressuring her brain and causing headaches. In some patients, such blood clots are reabsorbed over time.

But the situation became more urgent after Fernandez, 60, felt numbness in her upper left arm Sunday evening, according to the Fundacion Favaloro, one of Argentina’s top cardiology hospitals.

‘‘Facing these symptoms, the team decided on surgical intervention,’’ the hospital statement said.


The surgery involves drilling small holes through the skull to remove the remnants of blood that the presidency said was the result of a still unexplained blow to her head on Aug. 12.

Earlier Monday, even as Fernandez returned to the hospital for pre-surgical exams, Vice President Amado Boudou made no mention of the planned operation. He said in a speech that top officials would run the country as a team ‘‘while she gets the rest she deserves.’’

‘‘What Cristina wants is for us to maintain the administration,’’ Boudou said, ‘‘and to carry on this project that [her late president and husband] Nestor Kirchner began and that Cristina has continued.

‘‘Be strong Cristina! We’re all going forward together!’’ Boudou said.

What he did not say — and no other official ventured to guess — was whether Fernandez will formally delegate her executive powers during the surgery or while she recovers. Boudou is under investigation for alleged corruption and illegal enrichment and has one of the worst images among Argentine politicians.

Even Senator Anibal Fernandez, who often acts as a government spokesman, told the Telefe channel earlier Monday ‘‘We don’t have a clear idea what will happen.’’


A three-paragraph statement issued over the weekend by the president’s medical team said the injury was caused by a blow to the head but that the cause of her headaches was not discovered until Saturday. That statement, read by her spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro after she had spent nine hours in the hospital, provided no more details about the accident or the injury it caused.

The president arrived at the hospital Monday after remaining secluded in the presidential residence through the weekend with her children, Maximo and Florencia Kirchner.

Argentina’s constitution provides for, but does not require, a formal transfer of power in case of health problems, said Daniel Sabsay, a constitutional lawyer. A full medical leave would require congressional approval, but short of that, ‘‘she alone decides . . . if she needs to delegate some powers to the vice president,’’ he told Radio Continental.

The president’s critics said, however, that the government should be more transparent about her health. The statement issued Saturday contradicted earlier assertions about the nature of her hospital tests; During one visit in August that had been described as gynecological, a brain scan was performed that didn’t find anything wrong, her doctors revealed Saturday.