No word of improvement after PM's skull op

The reattachment of a piece of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's skull indicates that the medical phase of his treatment has finished, a doctor who consulted on the surgery said Thursday. That paves the way for Sharon to be moved to a facility devoted principally to nursing care, Prof. Harry Rappaport told The Jerusalem Post. However, the designated facility, Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, denied knowledge Thursday of Sharon's imminent arrival. The spokesman's office said any questions related to the PM and rehabilitation care for individuals in his condition would be answered only if and when Sharon comes to the hospital. Rappaport, the director of the department of neurosurgery at the Rabin Medical Center, said the skull had been reattached in an effort to produce some improvement in Sharon's condition, such as a response to stimuli or even a return to consciousness. No word on any such improvement has yet been announced. The skull fragment had been removed following Sharon's stroke due to the swelling resulting from the attack, Rappaport said. It could have been restored earlier, once the swelling went down, but Rappaport explained that, for unconscious patients, "the risk of leaving it open is considered less" than the risk of undergoing the operation to reattach the skull. Complications could arise from the anesthesia or the move to the operation room, though Rappaport noted that leaving the brain exposed had other dangers: it is unprotected, susceptible to atmospheric changes, and vulnerable to shifts in body position. The decision to operate, which Rappaport backed, resulted from a lack of signs of improvement on any front. "Given the fact that there hasn't been an improvement in quite a long time," he said, the surgery was "something that might have [led] to a more favorable condition."