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Pope Francis

Pope Francis is 'in good, overall condition' after half of colon removed, Vatican says

Pope Francis "is in good, overall condition, alert and breathing spontaneously," Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Monday. The pope underwent what the Vatican said was a prescheduled surgery Sunday to resolve a narrowing in his large intestine. The operation lasted about three hours, Bruni said, and the pope is expected to remain in Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic for about seven days, barring complications. The hospital has had a special suite reserved for popes since Pope John Paul II's tenure. 

The Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported that the 84-year-old pope was going to have the colon surgery laparoscopically, but unspecified "complications" prompted surgeons to operate with a larger incision. The operation involved removing half of the pope's colon, and typically, surgeons connect the remaining right half to the healthy remnants of the large intestine. The most common, though still very rare, complication from such surgeries is that the connection between colon and intestine doesn't hold, causing pain and possibly an infection that requires further surgery.

The bowel problems Pope Francis experienced are painful and very common in older people, colorectal specialists tell The Associated Press, but only 10-20 percent of people require surgery.