Pope Francis is expected to spend the next week in hospital as he recovers from intestinal surgery, according to the Vatican.
“His Holiness Pope Francis is in good general condition, alert and breathing spontaneously,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told journalists on July 5.
The pope underwent a surgery at Rome’s Gemelli hospital on July 4 to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis.
The surgery lasted for about three hours and included a hemicolectomy, which is the removal of the left part of the colon.
The procedure was carried out under general anesthesia. Dr. Sergio Alfieri performed the surgery with the assistance of eight other physicians.
Colonic stricture, also called stenosis, is a condition in which part of the large intestine becomes narrower than usual. It can become dangerous if it is too narrow to let food safely pass through.
Diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon, can cause the stricture.
Recovery from diverticulitis surgery typically includes a hospital stay of up to a week and at least another two weeks of limited activity.
As of July 5, there are no major events scheduled on Pope Francis’ public calendar for the upcoming weeks. The pope traditionally suspends his general audiences during July.
At the age of 84, Pope Francis has only had one other operation during his eight years as pope. He last underwent an operation in 2019, for cataracts.
More about the operation:
A hemicolectomy is a type of surgery done to remove part of your large intestine called your colon. Your colon can be partially removed without affecting the way it works in your digestive system. Once the affected part is removed, the remaining ends are joined together with almost no impact on your digestion.
In some cases, you may need to stay in the hospital for one to two weeks to recover enough to go home, especially if you had an open hemicolectomy. Before you go home, your doctor will likely prescribe medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) to help manage your pain and docusate (Colace) to help prevent constipation. Learn more about how to manage constipation after surgery.
Once you’ve returned home, you may not be able to do normal daily activities for another two to three weeks. You also shouldn’t lift any heavy objects for at least six weeks.