New Scan Shows Sharon's Condition Unchanged

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon underwent a CT scan that showed he remained in serious but stable condition Thursday, the hospital said, in the first announcement on the comatose leader's state since he had a feeding tube inserted in his stomach earlier this month.

The statement from Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital said Sharon's condition had not changed and called the CT scan "routine."

The CT scans have been used to assess bleeding and swelling in Sharon's brain since he suffered a massive stroke on Jan. 4 and went into a coma. According to past hospital statements, there have been no changes in the results of the scan in recent weeks, but Sharon has failed to regain consciousness.

Thursday's statement was the first world on Sharon's condition since he underwent a gastrostomy to insert a feeding tube in his stomach on Feb. 1, an indication that his doctors are thinking in terms of long-term care for the 77-year-old Sharon.

Sharon suffered a stroke with what was described as "significant" bleeding in his brain a day before he was to check into Hadassah Hospital for a procedure to correct a tiny defect in his heart that was said to have contributed to a mild stroke he suffered two weeks earlier.

Doctors have come under fire from critics who questioned whether Sharon should have been treated with massive doses of anticoagulants after his first stroke, which was caused by a small blood clot in a cranial artery. Doctors admitted that the anticoagulants made it more difficult for them to stop the bleeding from the later hemorrhagic stroke.

The extensive bleeding and the lengthy operations Sharon underwent to stop it have led experts to conclude that he must have suffered severe brain damage and was unlikely to regain consciousness. If he does awaken, most say, the chances of his regaining meaningful cognition or activity are slim.