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Supreme Court Justice Breyer has surgery after bicycle fall

By Greg Botelho, CNN
April 27, 2013 -- Updated 2354 GMT (0754 HKT)
Justice Stephen Breyer suffered a proximal humerus fracture, according to a statement from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Justice Stephen Breyer suffered a proximal humerus fracture, according to a statement from the U.S. Supreme Court.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Stephen Breyer, 74, fell off his bike near the Korean War Veterans Memorial
  • He underwent "reverse shoulder replacement" surgery, the Supreme Court says
  • Breyer is expected to be released from the hospital early next week

(CNN) -- Stephen Breyer is known as one of the most active and engaging justices on the Supreme Court.

He's also been known to take a painful spill, every now and then.

One such fall -- from the bicycle he was riding Friday afternoon near the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington -- landed the associate justice in an ambulance, and eventually at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, the Supreme Court announced in a press release.

It is the third publicly known major bike crash for Breyer in the last two decades.

At the hospital, the 74-year-old was diagnosed with a proximal humerus fracture -- the humerus being the upper bone of the arm. He underwent reverse shoulder replacement surgery on Saturday morning.

Unlike in a healthy shoulder, where the humerus ends in a ball shape and fits into the shoulder blade to form a shoulder, in reverse shoulder replacement surgery the anatomy is reversed. In other words, a new metal "ball" is attached to the shoulder blade, or scapula, and a plastic cup is put at the upper end of the humerus bone.

Patients typically leave the hospital after this procedure -- first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2003 -- in two or three days, according to the American Academy of Ortophaedic Surgeons. The Supreme Court said Breyer is expected to head home early next week.

It's not the first time that he's tumbled off his bike and ended up in a hospital.

In 1993, he had a nasty accident when a car stuck him in Harvard Square while he was on his two-wheeler. He suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs.

Then, over Memorial Day weekend in 2011, Breyer broke his right collarbone after falling off his two-wheeler in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he has a second home.

He's had bad luck in other ways as well.

An intruder armed with a machete robbed Breyer, two guests and his wife -- renowned pediatric psychologist Dr. Joanna Breyer -- while they were vacationing on the Caribbean island of Nevis in February 2012.

Breyer robbed at machete-point during vacation

Three months later, his Washington home was burglarized.

CNN's Bill Mears contributed to this report.

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