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Article updated: 2/7/2012 5:07 PM

Kirk's skull replacement surgery successful

Sen. Mark Kirk

Sen. Mark Kirk

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A portion of U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's skull that had been temporarily removed to mitigate damage from brain swelling after a stroke has been successfully reattached, doctors say.

"The swelling in Sen. Kirk's brain has subsided and this morning we were able to reattach the portion of his skull that had been removed following his stroke," the Highland Park Republican's surgeon, Dr. Richard Fessler, said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Fessler called the surgery "an important milestone in his recovery and a step toward the next phase, rehabilitation."

Kirk, whose condition was upgraded on Monday, remains in good condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Fessler said.

Kirk, 52, suffered the stroke as a result of a carotid artery dissection in the right side of his neck, which interrupted the flow of blood to his brain.

Doctors say he has spent recent days visiting with family.

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