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US Attorney General Undergoes Surgery to Remove Gallbladder - 2004-03-10

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is recovering at a Washington hospital after undergoing surgery to remove his gallbladder, five days after complaining of severe stomach pain. Doctors say they expect him to make a full recovery.

Doctors at George Washington University hospital removed John Ashcroft's gallbladder after finding that his pancreatic duct had become blocked by a gallstone, creating a condition known as gallstone pancreatitis.

Doctor Bruce Abell took part in the one-and-a-half hour operation and says the 61 year old Ashcroft now remains in intensive care. "His case was pretty severe and that's why we had to wait until the pancreas settled down before we went ahead and operated on him," he said.

Dr. Anthony Kalloo of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore describes the surgery as fairly routine. "Removal of the gallbladder is a very common procedure performed in the United States. Over 400,000 patients have their gallbladders removed in the United States every year.

The nation's top law enforcement officer is expected to remain hospitalized for a few more days but his prospects for making a full recovery are called excellent.