updated 9/17/2009 7:41:58 PM ET 2009-09-17T23:41:58

Former Vice President Dick Cheney underwent elective back surgery Thursday, a procedure his office said "went well."

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"He is having dinner in his hospital room with Mrs. (Lynne) Cheney and expects to be released soon," Cheney spokeswoman Lucy Tutwiler said in a statement Thursday evening.

Cheney, 68, underwent the operation at George Washington University Hospital to deal with lumbar spinal stenosis, a common cause of lower back pain in older adults.

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal — the passage for the spinal cord — which in turn puts pressure on nerves, causing pain. Surgery is done to widen the passage and ease that pressure, typically by removing a bit of the vertebra.

Dr. Anthony Caputy, chairman of the hospital's neurosurgery department, performed the operation.

Cheney has had four heart attacks, starting when he was 37. He has had quadruple bypass surgery and two artery-clearing angioplasties. In 2001, he had a pacemaker implanted in his chest.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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