George W. Bush: Colonic Polyps

colonic polyps
Two benign colonic polyps were removed in 1998 and 1999, while Bush was governor of Texas 1.

Bush underwent follow-up colonoscopy on June 29, 2002, at Camp David. He denied signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer, but underwent the procedure to be "super-cautious" about his health 1. The results of the examination were reported to be normal. Supposedly, another of the reasons Bush underwent the procedure was "to underscore its importance for people over 50 who are at risk" 2.

Before the 20-minute procedure, Bush invoked section 3 of the 25th Amendment, temporarily transferring Presidential powers to Vice President Cheney MORE -- the first time an official transfer of power had been made under that provision of the Constitution. Bush commented: "I'm the first president to have done so (transferred power) under this type of procedure and/or physical examination. I did so because we're at war" 2.
Comment: It is often written that Ronald Reagan used section 3 of the 25th Amendment to transfer power to his Vice President on July 13, 1985 before undergoing surgery for colon cancer. However, Reagan did not explicitly invoke the 25th Amendement 3a.

Details of the procedure were released SEE BELOW. Bush will likely undergo repeat colonoscopy in 5 years 2.


Preparation for colonoscopy included 1.5 ounces of Fleet's phosphosoda, a liquid laxative with a citrus taste, mixed in ginger ale in order to induce diarrhea to cleanse the colon 1.

For the actual procedure, Bush was sedated by a drug called propofol, "chosen because it was 'ultra short acting' and wore off quickly," according to White House physician Dr. Richard Tubb, who also noted: "The anesthesiologist will be able to dial the medication to exactly the right level to where the president is comfortable but the endoscopist can get a good exam." The plan was for Bush to be awake 2 to 4 minutes after the anesthesia was turned off. 1

The Saturday procedure lasted from 7:09 to 7:29 a.m. "No polyps were found, no abnormalities were found." 2

Bush woke up two minutes after the procedure ended. He did not, however, resume his presidential duties until 9:24 a.m., after being examined by Dr. Tubb. Tubb recommended the additional time to rule out after-effects of the sedative. 2

White House physician Dr. Richard Tubb remarked that doctors at the medical facility at Camp David would be able to handle any complication from the procedure 1. Since perforation of the colon is a possible complication of the procedure, this implies that there is a full operating suite at, or quickly accessible from, Camp David.

Cited Sources
  1. Wilson, Patricia (Reuters). Bush to be sedated for colon check Saturday. Yahoo!. 28 June 2002, 7:50 PM ET.
  2. Knutson, Lawrence L.. Bush resumes office following colon test. Washington Post. June 29, 2002.

    Comment: Accessed from

  3. Abrams, Herbert L. "The President Has Been Shot": Confusion, Disability, and the 25th Amendment in the Aftermath of the Attempted Assassination of Ronald Reagan. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1992.
    a  pp.199-201

    Comment: Rigorous and enormously thought provoking. Abrams tells not only the story of the shooting itself, but, more importantly, the maneuvering to disguise Reagan's slow recovery afterwards and forestall any consideration of transferring power to the Vice President.

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