Antelope Valley Press

Vatican: Pope alert and well a day after intestinal surgery


ROME (AP) — Pope Francis was “in good, overall condition, alert” and breathing on his own Monday, the Vatican said a day after the pontiff underwent a three-hour operation that involved removing half of his colon.

Francis, 84, is expected to stay in Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic, which has a special suite reserved for popes, for about seven days, assuming no complicati­ons, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

The Vatican has given few details about the procedure, but an Italian newspaper reported, without citing sources, that surgeons began the operation laparoscop­ically but ended up having to operate with wider incisions after encounteri­ng unspecifie­d complicati­ons.

Monday’s brief medical bulletin — which came more than 12 hours after the end of Sunday’s surgery and contained the first details from the Vatican — mentioned no such complicati­ons. The Holy See said the pope needed the procedure because of a narrowing of a portion of his large intestine that doctors say can be quite painful.

When the Vatican announced on Sunday afternoon that Francis had been admitted to hospital, it said the operation had been planned.

“His Holy Father is in good, overall condition, alert and breathing spontaneou­sly,” Bruni said in a written statement, adding the operation lasted about three hours.

The procedure generally entails removing the left side of the colon and then joining up the remaining healthy parts of the large intestine. But the Vatican didn’t elaborate.

Doctors said a risk of the operation is that the connection between the joined-up parts of the colon can sometimes fail, causing more pain and possibly an infection. Such a failure is very rare but would require another surgery.

Without citing sources or specifying what happened, Rome daily Il Messaggero reported that “complicati­ons” arose during the surgery. The newspaper said that led surgeons to switch from working laparoscop­ically to operating through a larger incision.

Laparoscop­y is a surgical procedure often dubbed “keyhole surgery” that typically allows surgeons access with very small incisions.

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