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Supreme Court Justice Breyer has surgery after bicycle fall

Supreme Court Justice Breyer has surgery after bicycle fall
Saturday, April 27, 2013 - 4:27pm

Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer is recovering at a Washington hospital after undergoing shoulder surgery following a bicycle fall, the court announced Saturday.

Breyer, 74, hurt his right shoulder when he fell off his bicycle Friday afternoon near the Korean War Veterans Memorial in the nation's capital, according to a press release from the Supreme Court. He was taken by ambulance to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

It is the third publicly known bike crash for Breyer since he became a justice in 1994.

He was diagnosed with a proximal humerus fracture -- the humerus being the upper bone of the arm -- and as a result underwent what the Supreme Court said was reverse shoulder replacement surgery Saturday morning.

Unlike in a healthy shoulder, where the humerus ends in a ball shape and fits into the shoulder blade to form a shoulder, in reverse shoulder replacement surgery the anatomy is reversed. In other words, a new metal "ball" is attached to the shoulder blade, or scapula, and a plastic cup is put at the upper end of the humerus bone.

Patients typically leave the hospital after this procedure -- first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2003 -- in two or three days, according to the American Academy of Ortophaedic Surgeons. The Supreme Court said that Breyer is expected to head home early next week.

Breyer suffered a spill on his two-wheeler in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Breyer has a second home, over Memorial Day weekend in 2011. He broke his right collarbone then.

In 1993, he had a nasty accident when a car stuck him in Harvard Square while he was on his two-wheeler. He suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs.

The justice, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the high court in 1994, is known as one of the most active and engaging members of the court. His wife is Dr. Joanna Breyer, a renowned pediatric psychologist.

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