Pope Francis is in a “good general condition”, alert and breathing on his own after a three-hour operation to remove intestinal scar tissue and repair a hernia in his abdominal wall, the Vatican said.
The 86-year-old rested “extensively” during a peaceful night and is spending his first day after the surgery observing the “necessary post-operative rest”, the Vatican said in a statement.
“The Pope is informed of the messages of closeness and affection that have come in the last few hours and expresses his gratitude, while asking for continued prayers for him,” the statement said.
Francis was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli hospital on Wednesday for his second major abdominal operation in two years following a 2021 procedure to remove part of his colon.
Doctors revealed that in addition to that 2021 operation, Francis had undergone previous abdominal surgeries sometime before 2013 in his native Argentina, which had also caused intestinal scarring.
During the operation on Wednesday, doctors removed adhesions, or internal scarring, on the intestine that had caused a partial blockage.
To repair a hernia that had formed over a previous scar, a prosthetic mesh was also placed in the abdominal wall.
Dr Sergio Alfieri, director of abdominal and endocrine sciences who performed the surgery, said the operation was a success and that Francis was suffering from no other pathologies, that the tissue removed was benign and that after he recovers, he should be fine.
A feared protrusion, or bulging of the intestine through the hernia tear, was apparently not found.
Dr Alfieri, who also removed part of Francis’s colon in 2021, told an evening press conference the Pope was awake, alert and even joking.
“When will we do the third one?” he quoted Francis as saying.
The pontiff is expected to remain in the 10th floor papal suite at Gemelli for several days and all papal audiences are cancelled through June 18.
The operation was scheduled after Francis complained about increasing bouts of pain and intestinal blockages.
After going to Gemelli on Tuesday for checks, he was admitted on Wednesday following his general audience and underwent the procedure a short time later.
The surgery was likely scheduled for now to give Francis plenty of time to recover before embarking on planned travel later this summer: an August 2-6 trip to Portugal for World Youth Day, an August 31-September 4 trip to Mongolia and a September 23 day trip to Marseille, France.
Francis remained in charge of the Vatican and the 1.3-billion strong Catholic Church even while unconscious and in the hospital, according to canon law.