Rome Pope Francis underwent bowel surgery on Wednesday, two years after it was performeddue to inflammation and narrowing of the large intestine.
The operation successfully removed intestinal scar tissue and repaired a hernia in Francis’ abdominal wall, the latest ailment to afflict the 86-year-old pope.
The Vatican said there were no complications during the three-hour surgery, which required Francis to be under general anesthesia. The pope was expected to remain at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome for several days, and all papal masses were canceled until 18 June.
Dr. Sergio Alfieri, director of Abdominal Sciences and Endocrinology at Gemelli, who also performed Francis’ 2021 colon surgery, said the operation was a success. Shortly thereafter, the pope was up, alert, and even joking.
“When are we going to do the third?” Francis was quoted as saying.
During the operation, doctors removed internal adhesions or scarring in the intestines that had caused partial obstruction, in addition to pain in recent months. Alfieri revealed that Francis had had previous undisclosed abdominal surgeries sometime before 2013 in Argentina, which also left him with scars.
To repair a hernia that had formed over a previous scar, Alfieri said, a synthetic mesh was placed in the abdominal wall. He added that the Pope did not suffer from any other diseases, that the tissue removed was benign and that after he recovers, he should be fine.
No frightful bump, or distention, was found in the intestine through the hernia tear.
“It looks like they operated on him in the nick of time without compromising his bowels,” said Dr. Walter Longo, chief of colorectal surgery at Yale University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the surgery and commented after consulting the doctor. Vatican statement on the procedure.
“The stay at the health facility will last several days to allow for normal post-operative menstruation and full functional recovery,” the statement said.
Francis spent 10 days at Gemelli in July 2021 for a previous bowel surgery. He had suffered from what the Vatican described as acute colitis and narrowing of the colon.
In an interview with the Associated Press in January, Francis said diverticula, or bulges in the intestinal wall, that prompted his 2021 surgery, had returned.
Francis went to Gemelli on Tuesday for what the Vatican said were medical exams. She did not reveal any details at the time.
Francis, 86, made a fine Wednesday morning appearance to his audience in St. Peter’s Square, trolling the square in his shopping cart, greeting the faithful. The Vatican said it had also held two meetings on the Wednesday morning before that.
Part of the Argentine pope’s lung was removed when he was a young man. He also suffers from sciatica nerve pain and has been using a wheelchair and a walker for over a year due to strained ligaments in his knee.
Pope spent three days in the hospital in late March. At first, the Vatican said he had gone for scheduled checkups, but later revealed that he felt pain in his chest and was rushed to hospital, where he was diagnosed with bronchitis. He was given intravenous antibiotics and released on April 1.
Francis has had a busy schedule lately, with multiple audiences each day. The Vatican recently confirmed that August is a travel-packed month, when the Holy See and Italy are usually on vacation, with a four-day visit to Portugal in the first week of August and a similarly long trip to Mongolia starting on August 31.
In a sign that the trips were continuing, the Vatican on Tuesday released the planned itinerary for Francis’ visit to Portugal for World Youth Day events from Aug. 2-6. The itinerary emphasizes a usually busy schedule that includes all the protocol meetings for an official state visit as well as multiple events with youth and a day trip to the Marian Shrine in Fatima.