Ashcroft discharged from hospital
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Interactive: How gallstones cause pancreatitis
|Pancreatitis often is caused by gallstones leaving the gallbladder and lodging near the pancreatic duct, obstructing the duct.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, high fever, difficulty breathing and abdominal bruises from internal bleeding. |
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Five days after undergoing surgery to remove his gallbladder, Attorney General John Ashcroft was discharged from the hospital Sunday, the Justice Department said.
Ashcroft, 61, was discharged shortly after noon from George Washington University Hospital, where he was diagnosed with severe gallstone pancreatitis and operated upon.
"The attorney general and Mrs. Ashcroft thank the doctors, nurses and staff of the George Washington University Hospital for their excellent treatment and care," Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said in a written statement.
"The Ashcrofts are grateful for the many friends and well wishers who kept them in their thoughts and prayers during this illness. They would also like to thank people for respecting the attorney general's need for quiet rest as he continues to recover."
Deputy Attorney General James Comey will continue to run the department while Ashcroft recuperates, the Justice Department said.
Gallstone pancreatitis is a condition in which a gallstone blocks a duct of the pancreas, a gland that produces enzymes that aid in the digestion of food.
With the enzymes trapped inside the pancreas, the gland becomes inflamed, causing excruciating pain.
Bile -- produced in the liver -- is stored in the gallbladder and aids in the digestion of fats in the small intestine. Gallstones are composed of cholesterol and bile salts.
Dr. Bruce Abell, who performed the surgery Tuesday, said Ashcroft's surgery was performed as a preventive measure to reduce the risk of recurrent pancreatitis. (Full story)
The surgeon said the procedure was done laparoscopically and that "everything went as planned".
Like all people who have had their gallbladders removed, Ashcroft will have to limit his intake of fatty foods, Abell said.
Ashcroft entered the hospital March 4 after complaining of abdominal pain. (Full story)