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Keith Richards undergoes surgery

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    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Wellington (Reuters): Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards had surgery to relieve a blood clot on his brain caused by an accident while holidaying in Fiji, local media reported today. The 62-year-old rocker was recovering in New Zealand after ''brain surgery'', Australian and New Zealand media reported.

    A spokeswoman for the band said last week that Richards only suffered a mild concussion from an accident in Fiji in late April and would not require surgery. The New Zealand Herald reported that Richards underwent brain surgery to relieve a subdural haematoma or blood clot on the brain. The operation normally involves drilling a hole through the skull to drain the clot. Subdural haematoma can be caused by mild knocks to the head.

    ''The Herald understands the 62-year-old's condition was much more serious than previously reported,'' said the newspaper, but did not quote any hospital or medical officials. ''The operation was for a subdural haematoma, a blood clot that forms in the outer membranes of the brain, often from a torn vein,'' said the Herald. Australian Broadcasting Corp radio also reported that Richards had undergone surgery and remained in New Zealand under observation.

    Auckland's Ascot Hospital told Reuters on Monday that Richards had been discharged but would give no further details. ''I can confirm that he was discharged ... but other than that I can't make any comment. The hospital's policy is quite clear that we don't discuss any patients' past, present or future,'' said the spokesman.

    Richards was flown to Auckland, New Zealand, in late April after an accident while holidaying in Fiji following the end of the Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand leg of a world tour. A band spokeswoman said last week that Richards had been discharged and was in ''good spirits'' and adamant he would join the rest of the Stones in Barcelona for the kick-off of the European leg of their tour on May 27.

    Along with lead singer Mick Jagger, Richards has been the backbone of the Rolling Stones since the 1960s. His history of arrests and drug abuse in younger years has given him the reputation as rock 'n' roll's ultimate survivor.

    He pokes fun at his checkered past by greeting concert audiences with the catchphrase, ''Good to be here, good to be anywhere.'' He has suffered his fair share of freak accidents. In 1998, he broke three ribs and punctured a lung after falling from a ladder while reaching for a book in his library. In 1990, one of his fingers got infected after he punctured it on a guitar string. In both cases, the Stones were forced to postpone concerts.

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