Pope has surgery after breaking wrist in fall

18th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

The head of the Roman Catholic Church was a "friendly and excellent" patient, surgeon Manuel Mancini told reporters, describing the operation to insert two metal pins into the broken bone as "routine."

Aosta -- Surgeons operated on Pope Benedict XVI on Friday after the 82-year-old pontiff fell and broke his right wrist while on holiday in northern Italy.

"Everything went well" in the operation carried out with local anaesthetic in a hospital in Aosta, in the far northwest of Italy, said regional government president Augusto Rollandin.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church was a "friendly and excellent" patient, surgeon Manuel Mancini told reporters, describing the operation to insert two metal pins into the broken bone as "routine."

After spending more than six hours at the hospital, the pope emerged smiling shortly before 4:00 pm (1400 GMT), waving to well-wishers with his left arm as his right arm was in a cast.

He returned to his chalet in the hamlet of Les Combes d'Introd where he began a two-week holiday on Monday.

"We carried out a standard check-up on the pope, as for any patient before a surgical operation," hospital spokesman Tiziano Trevisan told AFP.

The surgery involved inserting two metal pins to hold together the fracture, Trevisan said.

The pontiff slipped and fell in his bedroom during the night, a Vatican statement said, in the pope's first health scare since he became head of the Roman Catholic Church in April 2005.

The German-born pope is scheduled to recite the weekly Angelus prayer on Sunday.

Lombardi said the event was "neither confirmed nor cancelled pending the doctors' advice."

Soon after he was spotted entering the hospital early Friday, his spokesman Federico Lombardi told AFP there was "no cause for concern."

His personal secretary Monsignor Georg Gaenswein accompanied Benedict.

Benedict's personal physician, cardiologist Patrizio Polisca, was also at the hospital throughout his treatment, the ANSA news agency reported.

The pontiff's "general (health) conditions are good," Polisca said afterward in a communiqué published by the Vatican.

Trevisan said the hospital would not be involved in follow-up care.

He noted the pope had undergone an overall check up that revealed no serious problems.

Vatican sources earlier told ANSA that the pope was not ill and had not fainted before his fall.

Benedict, who is right-handed and an avid pianist in his leisure time, had had a piano sent to the chalet, media reports said.

The Vatican communiqué said an X-ray had determined that the pope had a "slight fracture" of the wrist. Benedict celebrated mass as usual and had breakfast before going to hospital, the Vatican said.

Benedict has had no notable health problems since his election following the death of John Paul II, whose final years were marked by noticeable pain and suffering from Parkinson's disease.

Four years before he became pope however, the then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spent nearly a month in hospital following a brain haemorrhage, according to the German daily Bild. It said he has suffered from fainting spells.

And in 1992, he received stitches for a head wound he suffered in a fall while in holiday in Bressanone, northern Italy. He stayed in hospital for several days under observation.

The pope's older brother Georg Ratzinger revealed that he was "very frightened" when Benedict was elected because of his age -- 78 at the time.

"I'm very frightened. I thought that his advanced age and his health, which is not so stable, would be reason enough for the cardinals to look for someone else," Georg Ratzinger, now 85, told German television.

In another interview he told the German Catholic news agency KNA that his brother was not in "very robust health... nor is his heart especially strong."

The Holy See does not issue regular bulletins on the pope's state of health.

Journalists have observed signs of fatigue in the pontiff following some of his overseas trips.

When he travelled to Australia last year, Benedict took several days off in the country before beginning his official appearances at World Youth Day celebrations in Sydney.


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