Chretien in successful brain surgery

Sat Aug 7, 2010 2:24pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who led the country from 1993 to 2003, had emergency brain surgery in Montreal on Friday but was expected to be released from hospital in a few days.

The 76-year-old Chretien underwent surgery to treat a spontaneous subdural hematoma -- a collection of blood between the skull and the brain that applies pressure on the brain, Montreal's Jewish General Hospital said in a statement on Saturday.

It said the procedure successfully drained the blood.

"Mr Chretien is well, and recovering at the hospital. He is expected to be released in the upcoming days," the statement said.

Canadian media reported that doctors believe the hematoma may have been caused by an earlier fall but are not sure of the cause. They said Chretien was telling jokes and recounting political stories a day after the surgery.

Chretien's decades-long political career was marked by his strong opposition to the separatist movement in French-speaking Quebec, his home province.

Despite his often fractured English, Chretien was widely seen as a savvy political operator and led his Liberal party to three consecutive majority governments.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; editing by Chris Wilson)

<p>Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien speaks following the unveiling of his official portrait in Ottawa May 25, 2010. REUTERS/Blair Gable</p>