Eisenhower developed vague, ill-defined discomfort in the lower abdomen at 12:30 am on June
8, 1956. His physician arrived at the White House 30 minutes later and found moderate distention
and tympany, but no particular point of abdominal tenderness. The President slept fitfully
for the next few hours. Tap water enemas in the morning gave no relief. The pain became colicky
and centered on the umbilicus and right lower quadrant. At 10:30 am he vomited 1500cc of bile-stained
fluid. His pulse was 92, and his blood pressure had fallen from 140/100, when first seen, to
100/76. When seen by a consultant, Eisenhower was listless, apathetic, perspiring freely, had
somewhat cool and clammy skin and a pulse of 120. After 600cc of D5W [sic] given intravenously,
the hemodynamics improved and the President was tranferred to Walter Reed General Hospital
(after the ambulance found the proper White House entrance on the second try
Eisenhower's chronic anticoagulation therapy was suspended.
By 1:00 am on June 9, the 4
consulting surgeons unanimously felt surgical intervention was indicated. (However, the consultants
had to be browbeaten into this consensus! See below.) Distention of the small bowel, seen on
the initial x-ray, was increasing. At 2:20 am the President was induced and intubated and the
operation began. Electrocardiographic observations were made during the 2 hour procedure.
At operation, the terminal 30 to 40 cm of the ileum had the typical appearance of chronic "dry"
regional enteritis. The bowel immediately proximal to this was greatly dilated, moderately
edematous, but pink. An ileotransverse colostomy was performed, bypassing the obstruction.
The procedure was uneventful; 500 cc of blood were given.
The post-operative course was
smooth as well, save for a fever and minor wound infection on the 11th post-operative day.
He began conducting official business on the fifth post-operative day.