From the Washington Post:
Vice President Cheney walked slowly out of the hospital yesterday, one day after a procedure to repair aneurysms on the back of both knees.
Cheney emerged from George Washington University Hospital in the late morning with his wife, Lynne, at his side. He shook hands with doctors, then walked to his motorcade without assistance, although he moved more slowly than his normally brisk pace.
Cheney was under local anesthesia during the six-hour procedure Saturday.
Cheney had flexible stent grafts put in his knee arteries. During the procedure, a stent graft is threaded through a catheter inserted in the femoral artery at the groin down to the aneurysm site. Fully opened, it is like a little tube inside the artery, keeping the rushing blood from touching the weakened artery walls.
This is a newer technique for patching aneurysms, an alternative to rerouting blood flow around the weak spot with a vein bypass.
Why, you ask, would you want to have a local anesthetic for this procedure? Well, for one thing:
Cheney, 64, has a history of heart problems. He has had four heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery, two artery-clearing angioplasties and an operation to implant a pacemaker in his chest.
General anesthetic puts a lot of strain on the heart, and if something should happen, Dog forbid, while Mr. Cheney was on the table, who would run the country?