Pope gets feeding tube through nose

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005 The Associated Press reported today Pope John Paul II has been getting nutrition from a tube inserted through his nose. The tube was inserted shortly after the frail pontiff appeared at his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square and could manage only a raspy word or two.

A statement released by the Vatican appeared to quash media rumors that the 84-year-old pope might be returning to hospital any time soon. Feeding tubes are a common form of supplemental nutrition for patients who cannot swallow normally.

The type of tube used, a nasogastric tube, is threaded down the nose and throat into the stomach. Other types of tubes are implanted surgically, but this has not been deemed necessary at this stage, according to Dr. Barbara Paris, director of geriatrics at Maimonides Medical Center in New York.

She said it could be the step before the more permanent tube is implanted. Although somewhat uncomfortable when inserted, there is no anesthesia required for this procedure.

In this first report issued by the Vatican since March 10, three days before the Pope’s release from hospital, his aides also said John Paul spends "many hours" seated in an armchair, celebrates Mass in his private chapel and has work contacts with his aides "following directly the activities of the Holy See and the life of the church."

The ailing Pope also suffers from Parkinson's disease, which makes it difficult for him to talk, and knee and hip ailments that are taking a serious toll on his mobility and follows by only a month the insertion of a breathing tube to help him breathe.

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