Thai King undergoes surgery

BANGKOK • Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej yesterday underwent an operation to widen the arteries in his heart, the latest in a series of medical procedures for the world's longest-reigning monarch.

In a statement released yesterday, the Royal Household Bureau said recent tests showed that multiple arteries on the right side of the King's heart and one on the left had narrowed.

Yesterday morning, doctors performed a series of angioplasty procedures without anaesthetic, and widened the arteries using balloons and stents to bring back normal blood flow.

"The result was satisfactory and the medical team are closely monitoring him," the statement said.

The announcement was unusual because it came on the same day the procedure took place. Usually, such news is released days later.

Information on the monarchy is tightly controlled by the palace but in recent weeks, the palace has issued a string of health updates.

King Bhumibol, 88, has been confined to a wheelchair and is rarely seen in public.

He has spent most of the past two years hospitalised for a series of ailments, including bacterial infections and breathing difficulties.

In the past month, he has also been treated for a build-up of fluid around the brain and a swollen lung.

He was last seen in public on Jan 11, when he spent several hours visiting his Bangkok palace.

The frail health of the King is a matter of significant public concern. Anxiety over what will happen after his reign ends is seen as a factor in the country's past decade of tumultuous politics, as competing elites jostle for power and influence before the transition.

Most Thais have known no other monarch, and the country is preparing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of his accession to the throne.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2016, with the headline 'Thai King undergoes surgery'. Print Edition | Subscribe