Surgery to repair a herniated disk in Bullet forward Mitch Kupchak's back "went as anticipated" yesterday at Sibley Memorial Hospital, team physician Dr. Stanford Lavine reported.

Dr. Arthur Hustead, a neurosurgeon, performed the 90-minute operation, which involved a laminectomy followed by removal of the herniated disk.

Kupchak, who had similar surgery prior to his junior year at the University of North Carolina, will be hospitalized about 10 days, Lavine said. The three-year Bullet veteran said Wednesday he plans to be able to play by early this season.

"Kupchak's surgery went as anticipated," Lavine said. "They found what they expected."

Back pain prevented the 6-foot-11 Kupchak from competing in most of the Bullets' playoff games last season. His absence has been cited as a major reason the Bullets were unable to successfully defend their NBA title, losing the championship series to Seattle, 4-1.

Yesterday's surgery was fairly uncomplicated as far as such operations go.

The laminectomy part of the operation involves removing one or more lamiinae, a series of bony plates that cover the spinal cord. In almost all spinal-column surgery, the surgeon must remove the laminae in order to expose and gain access to the underlying structures.

In some cases, laminae are then fused together in order to strengthen the back. This was not necessary in Kupchak's case.

After performing the laminectomy, the surgeon then corrects the herniated, or slipped, disk, by removing all or part of it, thus eliminating the pressure that it puts on the spinal nerve.

Dr. Hustead was not available for comment.