Although we are not participating in the care of Prince Philip, husband to Queen Elizabeth of England, we have noted news reports that the prince consort is scheduled for “exploratory surgery” shortly after findings of abdominal.
He was admitted to the hospital today under his own power after attending an afternoon garden party for a planned surgery for abnormal abdominal findings detected during a staged medical workup.
Prince Philip is expected to be in the hospital for two weeks.
This announcement by Buckingham Palace is very carefully worded and is likely not sharing all the details known to the Palace at this time.
First, to read between the lines of the announcement, there is really no exploratory surgery in modern care. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging have eliminated the old saw that surgeons should “never let the skin come between you and the diagnosis.”
When masses or tumors are found on imaging, CT or endoscopic biopsy can usually be performed to obtain tissue for pathologic diagnosis.
So, likely the Prince’s surgical team know exactly what they are operating on and why.
Secondly, an acute infectious process is most likely ruled out as the Prince was feeling well enough to attend a party and then ambulate to the hospital. This likely rules out such conditions as cholecystitis (gallbladder infection) and diverticulitis.
Third, a hospital stay of two weeks likely means an open laparotomy with a large abdominal incision. This type of approach is becoming less common with even “major” surgery now performed with a laparascopic or minimally invasive approach. Colon resections, gastric (stomach) resections, and major pancreatic tumor resections are now all done commonly through minimally invasive techniques.
These operations almost never cause a planned stay of two weeks if all goes well.
What does make sense here is that the Prince developed some abdominal complaints and received an imaging or endoscopic workup that showed a large or diffuse malignancy that is not amenable to resection (removal) through a minimally invasive approach, requiring the laparotomy.
However, any surgery requiring anesthesia in a 91 year old male is a risky procedure, fraught with possible complications. The Prince is at risk for cardiac, pulmonary, deep vein thrombosis, and infectious problems at the least. He will suffer musculoskeletal deconditioning almost immediately, from which it will be difficult to rehab.
It is possible that by saying the planned stay is two weeks, the Palace is giving building some leeway into the timeline if and when a likely complication or setback occurs.
What was actually wrong with prince Phillip then