Pope Francis was admitted to a Rome hospital on Sunday to undergo a “scheduled surgery” for a stenosis, or restriction, of the large intestine, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.
The 84-year-old pontiff was suffering from “symptomatic diverticular stenosis” of the colon, a condition that can cause recurrent abdominal pain, bloating and changes in bowel habits, Bruni said.
It was not immediately clear when the surgery in Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic would take place, but Bruni said another statement would be issued after the operation.
It is the first time Francis has been admitted to a hospital since his election in 2013, according to Reuters.
The pope appeared to be in fine health several hours earlier when he addressed thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday blessing and message. He told the crowd that he plans to go to Hungary and Slovakia in September.
A week ago, Francis had used the same appearance to ask the public for special prayers for himself, which, in hindsight might have been hinting at the planned surgery.
Apart from sciatica, which causes pain in his legs when he walks, the pope has been in relatively good health since his election. He had part of one lung removed as a young man.
Gemelli doctors have performed surgery before on papal patients, including in 1992, when Pope John Paul II had a benign tumor in his colon removed.
Diverticulitis is an inflammation caused when people develop small sacs, or diverticuli, in the colon walls. The condition is usually symptomless, but can cause discomfort and, sometimes, bleeding, CNN reported.
The condition affects more than half of adults in the US and is more common as people age, according to the US National Institutes of Health.
With Post wires