Roh out of hospital, but with needle in throat

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Roh out of hospital, but with needle in throat

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Roh Tae-woo

Ex-president Roh Tae-woo, 79, who was hospitalized Tuesday at Seoul National University Hospital due to a severe cough and who returned to his home yesterday, didn’t have pneumonia, the hospital said. Doctors at the hospital, however, found what they believed to be a needle lodged in his throat.

“Roh felt some trouble in his bronchial tube, but he had no fever or muscle pains,” Mun Dong-hui, Roh’s secretary, said.

“Roh was hospitalized in a VIP room, not in the intensive care unit, which means he didn’t have that much of a breathing problem,” Mun said.

Other Roh aides told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday that Roh has suffered pneumonia nine times over the past few years.

“We found something, which seems like a needle used in Oriental medicine, in his bronchus,” a hospital official said. “We can’t tell whether the object is indeed a needle or not, as it is inside his body.”

But Mun said, “Roh has never received any acupuncture treatments before, although he sometimes visited Oriental clinics.”

According to Mun and to the hospital, Roh returned to his house at about 8 a.m. without having surgery to remove the object.

Experts say, however, that alien objects should be removed promptly.

“If a substance stays inside the body, [and especially due to its location] it could cause troubles such as pneumonia or bronchoconstriction,” said Jeong Gi-seok, professor of Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital.

“The reason why Roh didn’t have the surgery to remove it could be that the hospital didn’t see much benefit from the surgery. Otherwise, it would have arranged a surgery sometime soon.”

But Mun said Roh “has no plans to be hospitalized again” for the needle.

Since undergoing surgery for prostate cancer in 2002 in the United States, Roh has been treated at Seoul National University Hospital regularly. Roh suffers from cerebellar atrophy, a rare nerve disease.

“Cerebellar atrophy is a rare disease but has similar symptoms to Parkinson’s disease,” said Kim Jong-min, professor of Seoul National University Hospital’s Bundang branch. “But the pain from the disease is severer than Parkinson’s disease and is more difficult to treat.”

Roh, who is based in Daegu, was Korea’s first president to be elected in a direct election in 1988 after the democracy movement during the Chun Doo Hwan dictatorship.


By Park Tae-kyun, Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

폐렴 증상 입원 노태우 전 대통령 기관지서 ‘침’ 제거수술 않고 퇴원

노태우(79·사진) 전 대통령이 서울대병원에 입원했다 나흘 만인 22일 퇴원했다. 노 전 대통령 측 문동희 비서관은 “최근 몇 년 새 아홉 번이나 폐렴 증상을 보인 데 대해 가장 신경을 쓰고 있다”며 “이번에도 폐 쪽과 신경계통의 진료를 받았다”고 밝혔다. 특히 폐렴은 ‘노인의 (나쁜) 친구’로 통하는 데다 김대중 전 대통령과 정주영 전 현대그룹 명예회장의 사인(死因)이었다. 서울대병원 관계자는 “검진 결과 한의원에서 사용하는 침처럼 보이는 이물질이 기관지에서 발견됐다”며 “실제 침인지는 수술로 꺼내 봐야 알 수 있다”고 밝혔다. 이물질의 실체가 무엇이고 어떤 경로를 통해 몸 안에 들어갔는지는 아직 불분명하다.

침·바늘·닭뼈 등 기관지에 들어온 이물질은 기관지 내시경을 통해 제거하는 것이 원칙이다. 기관지의 이물질을 그대로 둘 경우 반복적으로 염증이 생겨 폐렴이 올 수 있고 기침을 자주 하게 돼 기관지가 막힐 우려가 있다.

하지만 노 전 대통령은 이물질 제거 수술을 받지 않고 서둘러 퇴원했다. 노 전 대통령의 측근은 “건강 상태를 종합적으로 고려해 일단 퇴원을 결정했다”고 말했다. 이에 대해 한림대 성심병원 정기석 교수는 “담당 의료진이 수술의 득실을 따졌을 때 이익이 그리 크지 않다고 판단했거나 수술일자를 조정했을 수 있다”고 추정했다.

노 전 대통령은 희귀 신경계 질환인 소뇌 위축증의 여파로 보행이 어려운 상태다. 이번에 신경계 검사를 받은 것도 이와 관련이 있을 것으로 보인다. 분당서울대병원 신경과 김종민 교수는 “소뇌 위축증(파킨슨 증후군)은 파킨슨병과 비슷한 질병인데 파킨슨병보다 치료가 어렵고 환자의 고통이 심하다”고 말했다. 또 2002년에는 전립선암과 기관지 절개 수술을 받은 것으로 알려졌다.

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