He once played television's sexiest doctor, but George Clooney's more recent trips to the ER had nothing to do with acting.

The 44-year-old actor, who will grace the cover of the inaugural issue of Men's Vogue when it hits newsstands next month, revealed to the magazine that the back injury he suffered last year was far more serious than he originally admitted.

An ailing Clooney canceled promotional appearances for Ocean's Twelve last November, citing a ruptured disk, a condition that his rep, Stan Rosenfield, said the actor had been suffering from for some time.

However, the injury turned out to be a torn dura mater, a membrane that covers the spinal cord.

Symptoms included severe headaches that gave way to spinal fluid leaking from the actor's nose. He also suffered from short-term memory loss.

In December, Clooney underwent surgery to reinforce his spine with bolts. He still must take Xanax and Motrin every day to combat recurring headaches, he told Men's Vogue.

The health problems brought new challenges to the actor's professional life. After he was unable to get insurance to make a film, Clooney was forced to put his $7 million Hollywood Hills home up for collateral.

Even so, Clooney has maintained a sense of humor about the injury.

"What you learn after you're 40 is it's just about plugging up holes in the boat," the former ER star told Men's Vogue.

Aside from mugging for the fashion mag's debut cover, Clooney's been hard at work on his day job.

The actor will next be seen in Good Night and Good Luck, a film he also cowrote and directed, about the true story of broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow and his conflict with Senator Joseph McCarthy. The drama is scheduled to open Oct. 7 in limited release.

Clooney will also appear in Syriana, the based-on-a-true-story account of CIA veteran Robert Baer's experiences with the organization's policies on terrorism, which is scheduled to open in limited release on Nov. 23. Matt Damon and Amanda Peet also star.

Up ahead, Clooney is once again collaborating with director Steven Soderbergh on the romance flick The Good German. Cate Blanchett costars in the film, which is expected to be released next year.

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