Pope is hale and hearty after surgery

Dr Sergio Alfieri briefs the press after Pope Francis’ successful abdominal surgery (AFP or licensors)

“The Holy Father is well, he is awake, alert, and has already joked with me!”

Doctor Sergio Alfieri, the surgeon who operated on Pope Francis at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on Wednesday afternoon, told journalists the operation went ahead without complications and the Pope is expected to make a full recovery within the usual timeframe for such an intervention.

He confirmed that the programmed surgical procedure to remove an incisional laparocele (hernia) caused by scarring from old surgeries was not an emergency operation.

Not an emergency

“Had it been an emergency, we would have intervened yesterday when he came into the hospital for a scheduled CAT scan,” he said.

Dr Alfieri explained that the laparocele had been causing increasingly frequent pain, thus the Pope’s medical team decided to schedule the operation.

“We found several strong adhesions (internal scarring) between some partially congested mid-intestinal loops and the parietal peritoneum, causing the above-mentioned symptoms,” he said.

The surgeon explained that the adhesions were removed and the hernial defect was repaired by means of “abdominal wall plastic surgery with the aid of a prosthetic mesh.”

No complications

“The surgery and the general anaesthesia went ahead without complications,” Dr Alfieri said, reiterating that the Holy Father has reacted well.

Answering questions put to him by reporters present at the briefing, Dr Alfieri said that such an operation usually requires about seven days in the hospital for recovery.

He noted that due to Pope Francis’ age, “we will take all precautions” and will decide in the coming days how to manage his post-surgical recovery.

Matteo Bruni, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, who was coordinating the briefing, confirmed an earlier announcement that all papal audiences will be suspended until 18 June.

Dr Alfieri reiterated that both during this procedure and the last, in 2021, nothing malignant was found, nor were other pathologies or illnesses revealed.

Thanks to hospital staff

Alfieri, who is the same surgeon who operated on Pope Francis for symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon in July 2021, stated that “the Holy Father has never had a problem” with general anaesthetics, “not today or 2 years ago; no problem on either occasion.”

The surgeon concluded the briefing by upholding the work of all the Gemelli Hospital staff, whom he thanked for their dedication, professionalism, and hard work.