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Doctor Offers Insight Into Congresswoman’s Condition

(Photo Credit: CBS)

(Photo Credit: CBS)

CBS Pittsburgh (con't)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – More information is now being learned about the complicated procedure that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords underwent after being shot Saturday while hosting an event at a grocery store in Arizona.

The Congresswoman remains in critical condition and on a ventilator in an Arizona hospital where doctors are very closely monitoring her.

One local doctor says he knows exactly what her doctors are up against. Dr. Parviz Baghai is a neurosurgeon at Allegheny General Hospital.

“If a bullet had enough velocity to hit the skull, get into the brain, go all the way to the other side and come out, it means there is a lot of energy in this bullet. In that regard, it is not a good sign,” says Dr. Baghai. “At the same time, another prognosis is where this through and through is.”

Dr. Baghai has not been involved in Congresswoman Giffords’ treatment. However, he does know the steps that are being taken to keep swelling of her brain down now that her surgery is done.

“The risks are by raising the pressure in the brain. It can cause further damage to other parts of the brain,” said Dr. Baghai. “You can control it by medication, by ventilation, and, as you know, in the case of the Congresswoman, they are inducing a coma to control the breathing.”

Dr. Baghai said the biggest risks for swelling will occur around the third day after surgery, and then will begin to decrease in about a week.

The other big risk is that of infection. That’s why Dr. Baghai understands why doctors in Arizona are feeling cautiously optimistic.

“When the patient comes into the recovery room and you see that they are awake, and they respond, that’s a good sign,” Dr. Baghai said. “As a result of the injury and the surgery, there’s no major damage to the critical parts responsible for consciousness, responsible for movement of arms and legs. That’s a positive sign.”

So what happens next? Right now, the Congresswoman remains in intensive care and that’s where she will stay for now. But doctors say that by midweek, they’ll have a much better idea of what her long term prognosis is going to be.

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