ROME (AP) — Pope Francis woke up Thursday after spending a good first night in the hospital after undergoing surgery the day before to remove intestinal scar tissue and repair a hernia in his abdominal wall, both problems stemming from previous surgeries. .
“The night went well,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement early Thursday, adding that more details would be provided later in the day.
Dr. Sergio Alfieri, director of abdominal and endocrine sciences at the Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic in Rome, who had already operated on the colon pontiff in 2021, said the surgery was carried out without complications and no other pathologies were discovered. At a press conference, he explained that Francisco was awake and even joking.
“When will we do the third,” the pope said, according to Alfieri.
Francis is expected to spend several days in the papal suite located on the 10th floor of the Gemelli and all his audiences until June 18 have been cancelled. The Vatican is scheduled to offer an updated medical report later on Thursday.
The operation was scheduled after Francisco complained of increasingly intense pain and intestinal obstructions. After going to the hospital on Tuesday for tests, the pope was admitted Wednesday morning after his weekly general audience and entered the operating room shortly after.
The operation could have been carried out now so that the pontiff has enough time to recover before the trips planned for this summer: from August 2 to 6 he will visit Portugal to attend World Youth Day, and between August 31 and 4 September will be in Mongolia.
During the operation, doctors removed adhesions — or internal scars — in the intestine that were causing a blockage. Alfieri revealed that, in addition to the operation almost two years ago, before being elected pope in 2013, Francis had undergone abdominal surgeries in his native Argentina, which also left him with scars.
To repair the hernia that had formed on the previous scar, a prosthetic mesh was placed on the abdominal wall, the doctor pointed out, noting that the pope did not suffer from other pathologies, that the tissue removed was benign and that when he recovers he will be fine.
Apparently no protrusions or bulges of the intestine were found in the torn part of the hernia.
“It appears that they operated on him in a timely manner without compromising the intestine,” said Dr. Walter Longo, director of colorectal surgery at the Yale University School of Medicine. Longo did not participate in the operation and made his statements after consulting the Vatican statement on the procedure.
Francis continued to be in charge of the Vatican and the Catholic Church of 1.3 billion devotees even as he lay unconscious in hospital, according to canon law.
In July 2021, Francisco spent 10 days at the Gemelli to have 13 inches (33 centimeters) of his large intestine removed. In a January interview with The Associated Press, Francisco said his diverticular stenosis, or bulges in his intestinal wall, that forced that surgery had returned.
After that surgery, Francisco regretted that he had not responded well to general anesthesia. That reaction partly explains his reluctance to have knee surgery, which is why he has had to use a wheelchair and a walker for more than a year.
However, Alfieri commented that Francisco did not have an adverse reaction to anesthesia in 2021 or on Wednesday.
“Obviously nobody likes to be operated on and put to sleep, because when that happens we lose consciousness,” Alfieri said at a news conference at the hospital in the evening accompanied by the Vatican spokesman. But there was no problem with general anesthesia “neither today nor two years ago”.
Dr Manish Chand, professor of surgery at University College London and a specialist in colorectal surgery, said the biggest problem afterward will be managing pain and ensuring the wound heals properly.
“In the first six weeks after surgery of this type, you run the risk of a recurrence,” he said. To avoid this, patients are advised not to exert themselves.