BALTIMORE - Abraham Lincoln might have survived being shot if today's medical technology had existed in 1865.

Given that scenario, the question is whether Lincoln would have recovered well enough to return to office, a doctor and a historian said yesterday at a University of Maryland School of Medicine conference.

Dr. Thomas Scalea, the physician in chief at the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center, said brain injuries are unpredictable but Lincoln would have stood a good chance of surviving. "I don't believe that the president had a uniformly fatal injury," he said.

Lincoln died within 10 hours of being shot in the head at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865. If modern methods could have saved the 16th president, he may have also retained his cognitive abilities because the fatal shot did not damage the frontal lobes of Lincoln's brain, which are responsible for language, emotion and problem solving, Scalea said.

However, Lincoln would have faced months of recovery before he could have returned to office, and whether he would have been able to communicate is unclear, the surgeon said. *