What kind of surgery did Pope Francis have, and why?

June 6, 2023  -LONDON (AP) — Pope Francis emerged from a three-hour abdominal surgery at a Rome hospital on Wednesday evening, with no known complications, the Vatican said. The procedure was necessary to repair a painful hernia the pontiff developed, linked to a 2021 operation to remove a significant portion of his large intestine.

Here’s a look at what we know about the operation and what potential complications doctors will be watching for in the 86-year-old pontiff.

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Pope Francis had a laparotomy, a surgery that involves opening up the abdomen, and doctors also inserted some prosthetic mesh to strengthen his colon.

“The surgery and general anesthesia were carried out without complications,” the Vatican said in a statement. Authorities said Francis was alert and responsive and that he had “responded well.”

Doctors not linked to the pope’s care said hernias were a known risk after previous operations and typically only become problematic when patients develop a bulge in their abdomen and experience significant pain. In such cases, surgery is needed to repair the hernia, which may involve some of the patient’s bowel.

The Vatican said Francis had been in increasing pain.

Dr. Walter Longo, chief of colon and rectal surgery at Yale University School of Medicine, said leaving the pope’s hernia untreated could lead to severe bowel problems.

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