UPDATED: Pope alert and in good condition after surgery to remove part of colon

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Pope Francis is alert, breathing without assistance, and in a good overall condition following surgery to remove part of his colon, the Vatican said on Monday.

The 84-year-old pope is expected to stay in hospital for seven days barring any complications, following his three-hour operation on Sunday night by a 10-person surgical team at Rome’s Gemelli hospital, Spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

The pope underwent a left hemicolectomy, a procedure in which one side of the colon is removed. It was the first time the Vatican disclosed the specific nature of the surgery.

The statement did not specify whether the decision to remove part of the colon had been taken before or during the surgery.

The scheduled surgery was for symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon, a condition in which sac-like pouches protrude from the muscular layer of the colon, leading it to become narrow.

In addition to causing pain, the condition, which is more common in older people, can lead to bloating, inflammation, and difficulty in bowel movement.

Photo: Pope Francis. EPA-EFE/ETTORE FERRARI