Ballesteros 'stable' after operation on brain tumour

Severiano Ballesteros was yesterday described as being "conscious and in a stable condition " in the intensive care unit of a Madrid hospital after undergoing a long operation to remove the majority of a brain tumour.

Doctors had originally planned to perform a biopsy on the tumour which was discovered last week after Ballesteros collapsed at Madrid Airport, but they instead decided to operate. La Paz hospital revealed that the procedure had passed without any complications. It was not immediately known if the tumour was malignant. It will be analysed and it will take several days before the results are known, and what course of treatment Ballesteros may need.

A hospital statement read: "At present, Severiano Ballesteros is conscious and in a stable condition, although he will not be able to receive visits in the next few days until he recovers from the surgical process." It added: "The next medical report will be given when the patient moves to the ward, which will probably be next week."

Although initial reports of the operation stated that it had lasted 12 hours, a later one put the length of time at seven hours. The hospital statement also revealed that the objective of the surgery was a resection of the tumour. That usually refers to a procedure to remove as much of a brain tumour as possible before radiotherapy or chemotherapy is started.

The 51-year-old collapsed last week and was in intensive care for five days, with doctors releasing a statement saying that he had suffered a "partial epileptic fit". He underwent a number of tests over the weekend which uncovered the tumour. After informing his family, Ballesteros confirmed the news in a statement on Sunday.

There have been concerns over Ballesteros's health since he retired last year. Doctors discovered an irregular heartbeat when he was admitted to hospital 12 months ago, while persistent back problems led to his retirement following a brief comeback in the middle of the decade.

In a glittering career Ballesteros won the Open Championship three times, the Masters twice, and 50 European Tour events. He also captained Europe to Ryder Cup victory at Valderrama in 1997.

The best wishes continued to flood in for the game's greatest entertainer. At Vilamoura, where the European Tour's Portuguese Masters will begin today, the defending champion, Steve Webster, spoke for many of the professionals gathered in the Algarve when he said, "Seve is my hero". "Tiger Woods is an amazing golfer but Seve just had that maybe something a little bit special about him," said the Englishman.

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