Pope set for tracheotomy procedure
Doctors were preparing to operate on Pope John Paul II to help ease his breathing problems, an Italian news agency said after the Holy Father had been rushed back to Rome's Gemmelli Hospital in an ambulance after suffering fever and congestion from a recurrence of the flu.
Italian news agencies Ansa and Apcom said the doctors were considering performing a tracheotomy - a procedure in which a hole is made in the throat and a tube is inserted to assist breathing.
A Vatican spokesman refused to comment on the reports, but Apcom said the Pope had already been taken to the operating room for the surgical procedure.
Sky Italia TV said the Holy Father was expected to be operated on in the next few hours, and said he was undergoing medical tests ahead of the operation.
Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said John Paul, who was taken to the Gemelli Polyclinico hospital shortly before 8:00 pm last night Sydney time, was admitted for "necessary specialised assistance and further tests".
Vatican officials said the Pope was suffering breathing problems similar to those that sent him to Gemelli at the beginning of the month, and Italian news reports said the latest respiratory crisis was even more severe than the first one.
Papal officials played down the seriousness of the situation, saying a patient of the Pope's age is always at risk from the flu. Vatican aides said the Pope had a fever and congestion in addition to the breathing problems.
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25 Feb 2005