The Pope has abdominal swelling

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The Independent Online
ROME (Agencies) - The Pope underwent medical tests yesterday to determine whether he will need surgery for an intestinal problem, one of his doctors said. Dr Corrado Manni, the chief anaesthetist at Gemelli Hospital, Rome, said the Pope had some swelling of the abdomen.

Dr Manni said most of the tests were to have been completed by last night but it might be necessary to carry out more this morning. He emphasised that until all the tests had been performed, no decision on treatment, including possible surgery, would be made.

After an overnight fast, the Pope underwent blood and radiological examinations and doctors scheduled a scan for later in the day. 'In medicine, everything can be serious and nothing can be serious,' Dr Manni, pressed about the 72-year-old Pope's condition, said. He added that the pontiff was completely calm.

Tests were being conducted by Dr Francesco Crucitti, the head of the hospital's surgical unit, and a 15-member medical team. Dr Crucitti operated on the Pope after the attempt on his life in May 1981 in St Peter's Square by a Turkish gunman, Ali Agca. The Pope's intestine was punctured in several places by a bullet in that attack.

Dr Manni said it was unlikely the current trouble was linked to that wound. 'If this were something tied to the shooting, it would have occurred two, three, four years after the event, not, I think, 11 years after,' he said.

However, the Vatican spokesman, Joaquin Navarro, said on Sunday that a link could not be ruled out until all the tests were done. He did not expect any further details to be released until this afternoon at the earliest.

The Pope had announced during his traditional Sunday appearance at a window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking the square that he would be having the tests.

He received a number of messages from world leaders yesterday, including one from the Polish President, Lech Walesa, who said that he 'was praying along with all my compatriots' for him.

The Pope was planning to go on holiday in the Cadore mountains tomorrow for 11 days. Mr Navarro said on Sunday he thought his departure would be delayed only by days.