ROME: Pope Francis, 84, yesterday had breakfast and got up to walk, two days after undergoing surgery for an inflamed large colon, the Vatican announced. “His Holiness Pope Francis rested well during the night,” spokesman Matteo Bruni said in an update following Sunday’s operation. “This morning he had breakfast, he read some newspapers and got up to walk.” Bruni added that the results from routine check-ups “are good”.
The Argentine pontiff underwent a planned operation on Sunday for what the Vatican described as symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon. Also known as diverticulitis, it is a potentially painful inflammation of pockets that form in the colon. The three-hour operation was conducted under general anaesthetic and Francis underwent a left hemicolectomy, in which the descending colon-the part attached to the rectum-is removed. The remaining bit of the colon is then attached directly to the rectum. On Monday, Bruni said the pope was “in good general condition, alert and breathing spontaneously”, adding that he would stay in Rome’s Gemelli hospital for around seven days unless there were complications.
According to Italian newspapers, the surgeons initially planned to carry out a less invasive laparoscopy on the pope but in the end reverted to open surgery. Also known as keyhole surgery, laparoscopy involves a thin tube being inserted into the body, avoiding the need for large incisions in the skin. But the presence of a scar from previous abdominal surgery required a laparotomy, a type of open surgery, the reports said. Health experts say it is not unusual to change method during an operation.
The reports added that the pope did not require a colostomy and there was no evidence of a fever afterwards. Francis is in the same suite on the 10th floor of the Gemelli hospital used by Pope John Paul II. The late pope underwent surgery there a number of times, including after an attempt on his life in 1981, and for a tumor in the colon in 1992. He was there so often that he dubbed it “Vatican 3”, third in line after the tiny city state and the papal summer palace at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome.
Pope Francis had been suffering pain from diverticulitis for several months, but scheduled the surgery for the summer to allow time to convalesce, according to Corriere della Sera newspaper. The pontiff had already put his Wednesday general audience on hold for the summer, and has no other official appointments in his calendar until Sunday, when he is due to lead the Angelus prayer. If, as expected, he is still in hospital on Sunday, he could follow John Paul II’s example and lead the prayers from his hospital window. – AFP