UPDATED: Pope Francis to have abdominal surgery on Wednesday

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VATICAN CITY, June 7 (Reuters) – Pope Francis will have surgery on his abdomen on Wednesday afternoon at Rome’s Gemelli hospital, the Vatican said in a statement, adding that the 86-year-old was expected to spend several days in hospital.

Francis made no mention of the planned operation at his weekly audience at the Vatican on Wednesday morning, where he appeared in good spirits.

The Vatican statement said the operation was necessary to repair a laparocele, a hernia that sometimes forms over a scar usually resulting from a previous surgery. It can also be caused by obesity or weakness of the abdominal wall muscles.

The Vatican said his medical team had decided in recent days that surgery, which will take place under a general anaesthetic, was required because the condition was causing painful, intestinal occlusions.

Francis had spent around 40 minutes at the same Roman hospital on Tuesday having a check-up.

Francis spent five days at the Gemelli hospital at the end of March with a lung infection and last month skipped audiences for a day due to a fever.

The pope, who marked the 10th anniversary of his pontificate in March, often uses a wheelchair or a cane to walk because of persistent knee pain.

In July 2021 he had part of his colon removed in an operation aimed at addressing a painful bowel condition called diverticulitis. He said earlier this year that the condition had returned.

The pope last year said he didn’t want to have an operation on his knee because the general anaesthesia for his colon surgery had brought disagreeable side-effects.

Photo – Pope Francis pays a tribute to relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux as he arrives to lead the weekly general audience in Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City, 07 June 2023. EPA-EFE/ETTORE FERRARI

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