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Justice Roberts Hospitalized After Seizure


BrucePrime

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WASHINGTON, July 30 — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was hospitalized Monday after suffering a seizure at his summer home in Maine, the Supreme Court announced.

The episode, described as a “benign idiopathic seizure,” was similar to one he suffered 14 years ago, according to the court’s press release. Idiopathic means that the cause of the seizure remains unknown.

He had no lasting effects from the earlier incident and was “fully recovered” from the seizure he suffered about 2 p.m. Monday, the court said, adding that the chief justice had undergone “a thorough neurological evaluation, which revealed no cause for concern.”

He was to remain overnight “as a precaution” at Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport.

The seizure caused a fall, in which he “experienced minor scrapes,” the court said.

Christopher Burke, a spokesman for Penobscot Bay Medical Center, told The Associated Press, “It’s my understanding he’s fully recovered.”

Senator Arlen Specter, who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when it considered the Roberts Supreme Court nomination in 2005, said yesterday that senators had been aware of the earlier seizure, CNN reported. The senators did not think it important enough to raise at the confirmation hearing, said Mr. Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican.

In an interview on Monday evening, Dr. David J. Langer, the director of cerebrovascular neurosurgery at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt, Beth Israel and Long Island College Hospital, said that medical care after such a seizure should include “a good M.R.I., CAT scan and EEG.” All these tests are available at the Penobscot Bay Medical Center, according to the hospital’s Web site.

“But the chances they’ll find anything and be able to do anything about it are pretty low,” said Dr. Langer, who is also an assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University.

“In the majority of seizures you see no anatomical cause,” he said. Such a cause could be a tumor, bleeding in the brain, a clogged blood vessel or an injury.

Dr. Langer said it could be difficult for doctors to decide whether the chief justice, who at 52 is the youngest member of the court, should start taking medications, which Dr. Langer said “have significant side effects.” Chief Justice Roberts appears otherwise healthy and is not known to have any chronic medical problems.

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