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Pope Francis Released from Hospital: Surgeon Reports Remarkable Improvement

Pope Francis Hospitalised for Surgery

After a successful abdominal surgery, Pope Francis has been discharged from the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome. His surgeon, Dr. Sergio Alfieri, reports remarkable improvement, asserting that the Pope is now “better than before.” 

In April 2023, Pope Francis faced a health scare when he was hospitalised for a respiratory infection, which was especially concerning due to his advanced age and history of lung surgery; however, at the time, the Vatican confirmed that his condition was not related to COVID-19 but possibly caused by one of many seasonal viruses.

The pontiff, who had been facing issues due to scarring from previous surgeries, is now expected to fulfil his upcoming international commitments with greater vigour. 

A Glimpse Into the Pope’s Surgery

Dr. Alfieri performed a three-hour operation on Pope Francis on June 7 to repair a hernia and remove scarring from previous operations. The surgery was deemed necessary to alleviate the Pope’s increasing discomfort and prevent the risk of intestinal blockage. Thankfully, no complications arose during the surgery or throughout his nine-day convalescence.

An Energetic Departure

As the Pope left the hospital, he exuded energy, even batting away microphones with a smile and standing up from his wheelchair. Although he appeared somewhat frail, the spirits were high, and his quick wit remained sharp. He thanked well-wishers and briefly commented on the tragic migrant boat sinking off Greece’s coast.

What is a Hernia? 

A hernia occurs when an organ or tissue protrudes through a weakness or opening in the muscle or tissue that contains it, most often in the abdomen or groin. This condition can manifest as an unusual bulge that fluctuates with various activities or body positions and may cause discomfort or pain​​. 

Hernias are quite common and can gradually develop due to age-related wear and tear on muscles or result from injuries, surgeries, or birth disorders. While most hernias are not immediately life-threatening, they can become serious over time. A hernia becomes critical when it gets stuck and can’t retract, leading to potential tissue necrosis due to cut-off blood supply. Consequently, most hernias will require surgical repair eventually, with some requiring urgent attention​​.

Are Hernias Common?

In Asia, groin hernias are exceedingly common, with surgical treatment being the usual recommendation. In fact, hernia repair ranks as the most common surgical procedure worldwide, with countries like China and India reporting over a million repairs every year.

Due to the vast numbers, hernia treatments pose a significant socioeconomic issue, particularly in ageing societies. Unlike Western countries where surgical repair using mesh is the norm, many developing countries in Asia still prefer tissue-to-tissue repair due to economic constraints. There is an ongoing effort by Asian experts to establish guidelines and reach a consensus on best practices for inguinal hernia repair in the region.

The surgical techniques have evolved significantly over the years, leading to a decrease in recurrence rates and postoperative pain. This provides a global context to the Pope’s surgery and signifies the importance of continued medical advancements.

Pope’s Commitments Post-Surgery

Pope Francis has an eventful schedule ahead. This includes an early August pilgrimage to Portugal for a Catholic youth jamboree and a historic first visit by a pontiff to Mongolia starting on August 31. With the successful surgery and recovery, Dr. Alfieri is confident that the Pope will now be able to undertake these trips without the discomfort he previously experienced.

Before heading back to the Vatican, Pope Francis took a moment to pray at St. Mary Major Basilica, a place he often visits to give thanks. This visit was particularly poignant as it marked the beginning of a new chapter in his health journey.

Pope Francis’s successful surgery and discharge from the hospital mark a turning point in his health, potentially revitalising his energy levels for his upcoming commitments. 

References

  1. Asian Journal of Surgery. (Year). Title of the study on hernia surgeries in Asia.
  2. AP News. (2023, June 16). Pope Francis discharged from hospital after surgery.
  3. Cross, J. (2006, April). MEDLINE, PubMed, PubMed Central, and the NLM. Editors’ Bulletin, 2(1), 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1080/17521740701702115
  4. Lomanto, D. (2019, May 15). My TEP in primary uncomplicated inguinal hernia. Hernia, 23(3), 615–616. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10029-019-01970-4

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