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Ashcroft hospitalized with gallstone complications

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft

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Mayo Clinic
•Pancreatitis often is caused by gallstones leaving the gallbladder and lodging near the pancreatic duct, obstructing the duct.
•Pancreatitis is likely to cause an intense, constant pain in the upper abdomen that may radiate to your back or chest.
•Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, high fever, difficulty breathing and abdominal bruises from internal bleeding.

John Ashcroft

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is in the intensive care unit of a Washington hospital after being admitted Thursday night for gallstone pancreatitis, the Justice Department said Friday.

The nation's top legal officer was brought to George Washington University Hospital's emergency room for evaluation of stomach complaints, Justice Department spokesman Mark Corrallo said in a statement.

Emergency room doctors determined Ashcroft was suffering from a severe case of gallstone pancreatitis, and he was admitted to intensive care for monitoring and treatment with antibiotics, the department said.

The condition occurs when a gallstone migrates from the gallbladder to the pancreas, causing a blockage.

It can be extremely painful and sometimes dangerous but usually isn't life-threatening, said CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Among the main symptoms is mild to severe pain in the upper abdomen that often moves to the back, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, high fever, difficulty breathing and abdominal bruises from internal bleeding.

Ashcroft, 61, believing he had stomach flu, canceled a Thursday appearance in Alexandria, Virginia, to announce verdicts in a terrorism case, the department said.

He went home, and when the conditioned worsened, White House physician Daniel Park visited him and concluded he should be hospitalized.

The department said doctors expect to know more about Ashcroft's condition within 48 hours.

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