Pope Francis is in “good general condition, alert and breathing on his own,” the Vatican said on Thursday, a day after undergoing abdominal surgery after being unexpectedly admitted to hospital following medical tests. this week.
Francis, who is 86 and has suffered from various medical issues over the past few years, “spent a peaceful night, managing to get plenty of rest,” the Vatican said in a statement, adding that routine clinical test results were good.
The pope will “observe the necessary postoperative rest” throughout the day as he recuperates in a 10th-floor suite reserved for popes at the Policlinico A. Gemelli Hospital in Rome, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said. in the press release.
The surgeons operated on what is called an incisional hernia, usually the consequence of previous operations, which had caused painful intestinal blockages which occurred more frequently.
The three-hour operation to remove intestinal scar tissue and repair a hernia in his abdominal wall had “no consequences”, the Vatican said after the procedure.
The operation had raised new concerns about the pope’s health. He was recently treated for bronchitis which required hospitalization at the end of March, had part of his colon removed during major surgery in 2021, and he now often uses a cane or a wheelchair due to problems knee and sciatica.
Sergio Alfieri, the director of abdominal and endocrine sciences at Gemelli who performed the operations on Francis this week and two years ago, told reporters on Wednesday that the pontiff also underwent abdominal procedures before becoming pope in 2013.
The immediate first phase of recovery should take about a week, according to Professor Giampiero Campanelli, director of day and week surgery at Galeazzi-Sant’Ambrogio Hospital in Milan, and editor of the medical journal Hernia.
During this time, the pope will be closely monitored to ensure that the drainage tubes placed near the surgical incision to remove fluids and prevent them from building up in the body are working effectively, Professor Campanelli said.
The pope will be encouraged to start walking, to avoid thrombosis, the professor added, noting that doctors would seek to ensure his respiratory system was back on track as incisions in his abdomen can make it difficult to breathe.
“It is important that the patient gets up as soon as possible,” Professor Campanelli said. “If all goes well, within a week the patient will have no consequences.”
The Vatican has canceled all public and private audiences with Francis until June 18 as a precautionary measure.
Once discharged from hospital, the pope will need to avoid heavy lifting, exercise and coughing to a minimum, Prof Campanelli said.
Dozens of cameras and reporters gathered outside Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, where popes typically receive medical treatment, hoping to catch a glimpse of Francis at his suite window.
Prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery continued to pour in. The diocese of Rome, of which the pope is the bishop, called for prayer from its website. The young patients of the Bambino Gesù hospital, which belongs to the Holy See, drew a recovery card on Wednesday: “Do not be afraid, we are with you”, she said.
“The pope is informed of the messages of closeness and affection that have come in recent hours and expresses his gratitude, while asking for the continuation of prayers for him,” Bruni said in the statement.