Pope has surgery after breaking wrist in a fall

AOSTA, Italy – Pope Benedict XVI broke his right wrist in a fall in his chalet while vacationing in the Italian Alps and underwent successful surgery Friday, hospital officials and the Vatican said.

The operation was performed under local anesthesia and went well, said Tiziano Trevisan, a spokesman at the Umberto Parini hospital in Aosta. Surgeons operated on the wrist to reduce the fracture, a procedure to realign the broken bone fragments, he said.

A Vatican statement said the 82-year-old pope fell in his room in a nearby chalet overnight and despite the accident, celebrated Mass and had breakfast before going to the hospital.

Doctors took an X-ray of the pope's right wrist and found a fracture, Trevisan said.

Benedict has been healthy during his five-year pontificate. There have been no reports of medical problems.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said earlier Friday that Benedict had slipped and was hurt, but that it did not seem serious.

He said the pope went to the hospital in the northwestern Italian town for an examination after the accident. ANSA reported that Benedict arrived at the hospital by car and walked into the first aid ward with an aide.

Benedict has been vacationing at a chalet in the village of Les Combes in the Valle d'Aosta region near the French border since Monday.

His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, also spent several summers at Les Combes. While John Paul liked to hike, Benedict spends most of his time inside the chalet that looks out on Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps.

Benedict has spent two summers at Les Combes in recent years. He said upon arrival that he expected to rest and work during his vacation.

Benedict is scheduled to be away until July 29, making at least two public appearances in the Valle d'Aosta area, including the traditional Angelus prayer on Sunday. He is expected to stick to his schedule despite the accident.

One pleasure that he is sure to be denied is playing the piano. The pope is a classical music lover and enjoys playing the instrument while on vacation.

Among adults over 65, falls are the leading cause of deaths caused by injuries. The risk of falling increases significantly with age, as older people typically have more problems with eyesight, movement and balance.

Older people are also at increased risk of osteoporosis, a condition which weakens the bones and makes them easier to break — making falls more dangerous.


Bruno reported from Aosta and David from the Vatican. AP reporter Chiara Sottile contributed to this report from Rome.

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