Surgeon Sergio Alfieri said that the Holy Father reacted well to the surgery and general anesthetic and will recuperate for 5-7 days. And he shared the Pope's post-op joke.
Update: “The night went well, more information to come at the end of the morning,” the Vatican press office announced on June 8, 2023, the day after Pope Francis’ operation for an intestinal hernia at the Gemelli polyclinic in Rome.
Original report below:
Pope Francis is “doing well,” “conscious” and “alert” after the surgery he underwent on June 7, 2023 for an intestinal hernia with risk of occlusion, said surgeon Sergio Alfieri at a press conference at around 7:30 p.m. The doctor had performed the operation at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital. An hour earlier, the Holy See had announced that the operation had been carried out “without complications” and had lasted three hours. For this type of operation, medical staff expect “5 to 7 days” of convalescence in hospital.
The Pope “reacted well” to the surgery and the general anesthetic, said Dr. Sergio Alfieri, director of the Gemelli’s Department of Medical Sciences and Abdominal and Endocrine Surgery. The 86-year-old pontiff “is doing well,” is “awake” and “alert,” and “he already made his first joke 10 minutes ago,” informed the expert in digestive tract surgery. Dr. Alfieri is the same surgeon who performed the Pope’s colon operation in July 2021. According to the surgeon, the Pope joked about having already had two operations with him when he woke up: “When’s the third one?”
At the end of the morning, after holding the general audience with no apparent fatigue, the Pope had left the Vatican at around 11:15 a.m. to go to the Gemelli polyclinic, located northwest of Rome, for a scheduled operation. An official press release indicated that the pontiff would undergo general anesthesia to install a “prosthesis” on the “abdominal wall” to correct the effects of a hernia with risk of occlusion.
During the operation, explained Sergio Alfieri, “tenacious adhesions” were found, due to scars from previous operations, notably for peritonitis when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was in Buenos Aires. These scars were causing “increasingly frequent” painful symptoms.” The operation, agreed upon over the last few days by the medical team assisting the Argentine pontiff, freed these adhesions and repaired the hernia through plastic surgery on the abdominal wall, using a “prosthetic mesh.”
The Pope has no other illnesses
Pope Francis had gone to Gemelli the day before, on June 6, for medical examinations prior to the operation. The pontiff “has no other illnesses” and “no other pathology has been found,” Sergio Alfieri was keen to clarify. He also pointed out that the Pope “has never had a problem with general anesthesia – not two years ago, nor today.” But “nobody likes to be put to sleep,” he stressed, in reference to the pontiff’s statements that he had “not handled well” the anesthesia in July 2021.
The surgeon said he expected “5 to 7 days” of rest after this type of operation, but suggested that the pontiff’s age might mean a longer convalescence. The Prefecture of the Papal Household has already canceled the audiences scheduled on the pontifical agenda until June 18.
The Holy See has also published the names of the dozen doctors who attended to the head of the Catholic Church during the operation. Dr. Sergio Alfieri was assisted by Drs. Valerio Papa, Roberta Menghi, Antonio Tortorelli and Giuseppe Quero. General anesthesia was provided by Dr. Massimo Antonelli, assisted by Teresa Sacco, Paola Aceto, Maurizio Soave, and Giuseppina Annetta. Professor Giovanni Battista Doglietto, director of the Vatican Health Assistance Fund, and Dr. Luigi Carbone, physician for the Vatican City Health and Hygiene Department, were also present in the operating room.