A file photo taken on September 25, 2011 shows Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud addressing the annual Shura (consultative) Council in Riyadh.

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King Abdullah to have his third back surgery in a year

He had surgeries last year for herniated disc, blood clot

He has ruled Saudi Arabia since 2005

CNN  — 

Saudi Arabia’s 87-year-old ruler, King Abdullah, arrived Sunday at a Riyadh hospital to undergo his third back surgery within a year, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Surgeons were to tighten a binding connector around his third vertebra, the agency said.

Abdullah last had back surgery in December at New York’s Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center for a herniated disc and a blood clot that were causing him back pain. He spent several weeks in Morocco undergoing physical therapy.

The king first underwent successful surgery on November 24. He had the follow-up operation to stabilize several vertebrae in his spine.

Abdullah has ruled the oil-rich kingdom since the August 2005 death of his half-brother, King Fahd. But Abdullah ran most of the kingdom’s affairs for a decade before that on behalf of his ailing sibling.