The surgery of Pope Francis, 84 years old, was successful, according to a bulletin released this Sunday night (4) by the Vatican. The pontiff had been admitted this morning to the Policlinico A. Gemelli hospital in Rome for a scheduled surgery to repair a “symptomatic diverticular stenosis in the colon,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said earlier in a statement.
The new statement states that Pope Francis underwent surgery at night. “The Holy Father responded well to the intervention carried out under general anesthesia,” says the Vatican spokesman’s brief note. It was not disclosed how long the pontiff will have to remain under observation, although the local press has estimated that he will have to stay in hospital for five days.
This morning, just hours before surgery, Pope Francis presided at the Sunday Angelus prayer for the faithful in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
The announcement of the operation was made by the Vatican shortly after 3:00 pm (local time, 10:00 am EDT). Two hours earlier, the pontiff had been admitted to the hospital completely anonymously and accompanied only by a driver and one of his closest collaborators, so that his presence went unnoticed at the medical center, according to hospital sources cited by the local press.
Francisco was taken to the 10th floor of the University Polyclinic, the same area that in the past hosted Pope John Paul II, sources add.
The announcement of the operation was a surprise, as it was not known that Francis would have to undergo an operation that was scheduled for the beginning of July, a month in which the pontiff reduces his actions as much as possible to rest and only maintains his presence in Sunday prayer of the Angelus.
According to specialists in the digestive system, the objective of this type of surgery is to reduce problems caused by diverticula, which are small hernias in the colon wall with a wide spectrum of clinical manifestations including bleeding, inflammation (diverticulitis) or complications associated with it (obstruction or perforation).
Colonic diverticular disease is very common in Western society and affects almost 65% of the population at 85 years of age.
Recently, Francis suffered several episodes of pain in the sciatic nerve that forced him to postpone some appointments, but other illnesses are unknown, except those that the Pope himself revealed in the past.
In an interview with Argentine journalist and physician Nelson Castro in Rome in 2017, the pontiff gave details of the operation he underwent in 1957, when he was a 21-year-old seminarian, to remove the upper lobe of the right lung in which three cysts had been detected, and of another operation, years later, to remove the gallbladder.
He also reported a heart problem in 2004 and said that when he was a pope he was diagnosed with fatty liver, which he overcame with a special diet that also made him lose weight.
Francisco also explained that he has a narrowing of the intervertebral space between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae, and between the latter and the sacrum, and that he suffers from flat feet.