Until now, the pope’s health has not been cause for much concern.
More than 60 years ago, he had an upper lobe of his lung removed as a result of complications from tuberculosis. And in recent years, his breathing has seemed labored during speeches. But Francis has maintained an often exhausting schedule during his foreign trips, most recently to Iraq in March.
He has, however, clearly slowed, in part because he has sciatica, a condition that causes leg and back pain, and he has missed some engagements. This past year, he missed New Year’s Eve and Day services because of a flare-up. Last year, he missed a Lenten retreat with senior aides because of a bad cold.
Though Francis underwent major surgery, the Vatican’s characterization of the procedure as scheduled — not urgent — was a good sign, according to Dr. Anne Peery, a gastroenterologist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. “I think there’s a very small chance that it is life-threatening,” Dr. Peery said.
Francis suffers from diverticulitis, a condition in the sigmoid colon in which saclike bulges on the colon walls become repeatedly inflamed or infected and can warrant surgical intervention, according to Dr. Feza Remzi, the director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at NYU Langone Health.
The pope arrived at the Gemelli hospital in the afternoon. He was accompanied by a driver and a “close collaborator,” the Italian news agency Ansa reported.
Francis was admitted to a suite of rooms on the 10th floor in one of the wings of the hospital, the same rooms occupied by Pope John Paul II during his hospital stays. John Paul was
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