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Bush to have colonoscopy under anesthesia

President Bush
President Bush  

From John King
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush Saturday will undergo a colonoscopy -- a diagnostic examination to check for early signs of colon cancer -- and will transfer power to Vice President Dick Cheney during the procedure.

"It is the third such procedure I've had," said the president. "The doctors recommended I have another because the last time they found some benign polyps."

A polyp is a mass of tissue that projects into the colon.

Bush made the announcement on the South Lawn Friday before boarding Marine One for Camp David.

"I did so because we're at war, and I just want to be super cautious."
— President Bush

"This is a routine physical examination that will be done at Camp David. I'm going to be sedated for a period of time and will transfer power to the vice president during that time," he said.

The president said he feels great and has had "no signs, no symptoms" of trouble. He said he is looking "forward to exercising tomorrow afternoon."

Asked about the decision to transfer power, Bush said, "I did so because we're at war, and I just want to be super cautious."

What is a colonoscopy? 
How a colonoscopy works 
25th Amendment outlines presidential succession 

Bush said he and his staffers had discussed the issue and "looked at precedent" before he decided on the transfer of power, which is authorized under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.

"I'm the first president to have done so under this type of procedure of physical examination," Bush said.

Even when President Ronald Reagan was shot and underwent surgery, there was no transfer of power.

Medical team for Bush's colonoscopy:
Dr. James Butler - Navy captain, chief of gastroenterology at the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland.
LEAD ANESTHESIOLOGIST: Dr. Paul Bruha - Navy commander select, staff anesthesiologist and assistant professor of anesthesiology at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, and a clinical assistant professor at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
OVERSEEING PHYSICIAN: Dr. Richard Tubb - Air Force colonel and the president's regular White House physician, who also leads the 24-hour medical team stationed at the executive mansion and wherever the president travels.

Source: The Associated Press

But while Cheney will be standing by, Bush said with a chuckle, "He realizes he won't be president that long."

Cheney is currently in North Carolina, but is to return to Washington by Saturday, sources said.

Bush's doctors said the procedure would take about one to three hours and the ultra short-acting intravenous anesthesia propofol will be used.

White House physician Dr. Richard Tubbs said Bush is to be sedated because it puts patients more at ease during the procedure. "Most patients are completely unaware or indifferent to what's going on," he told reporters.

In preparation, Tubbs said Bush will take Fleet's phospho soda, a very concentrated solution that will be mixed with ginger ale or lemonade, to flush his system.

"We'll have him ready. His colon will be ready," Tubbs said.

Bush said the only family history of colon trouble was the colitis suffered by his brother, Marvin, the youngest Bush brother.

"I do recommend and urge that people get these precautionary tests," the president said.


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