ROME (AP) — Pope Francis is going to the hospital Wednesday for intestinal surgery, two years after he had 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his colon removed because of an inflammation and narrowing of the large intestine.
The Vatican said Francis, 86, would be put under general anesthesia and would be hospitalized at Rome’s Gemelli hospital for several days.
The pope was undergoing what the Vatican said was a “laparotomy and abdominal wall plastic surgery with prosthesis” to treat a “recurrent, painful and worsening” constriction of the intestine.
A laparotomy is open abdominal surgery. It can help a surgeon both diagnose and treat issues.
“The stay at the health facility will last several days to allow for the normal post-operative course and full functional recovery,” the statement said.
In July 2021, Francis spent 10 days at Gemelli to remove 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his large intestine. He had suffered what the Vatican said was a severe inflammation and narrowing of the colon. In an interview with The Associated Press in January, Francis said the diverticulosis, or bulges in his intestinal wall, that prompted the 2021 surgery, had returned.
Francis went to the Gemelli on Tuesday for what the Vatican said were medical tests. It revealed no details at the time.
Francis, 86, had appeared in good form Wednesday morning at his audience in St. Peter’s Square, zipping around the square in his popemobile greeting the faithful. He also had two meetings Wednesday morning beforehand, the Vatican said.
The Argentine pope had part of one lung removed when he was a young man. He also suffers from sciatica nerve pain and has been using a wheelchair and walker for more than a year because of strained ligaments in his knee.
Francis has had a packed schedule of late, with multiple audiences each day. The Vatican has recently confirmed a travel-filled August, when the Holy See and Italy are usually on vacation, with a four-day visit to Portugal the first week of August and a similarly long trip to Mongolia starting Aug. 31.
In a sign that the trips were very much on, the Vatican on Tuesday released the planned itinerary for Francis’ visit to Portugal for World Youth Day events from Aug. 2-6. The itinerary confirms a typically busy schedule that includes all the protocol meetings of an official state visit plus multiple events with young people and a day trip to the Marian shrine at Fatima.