Attorney General John Ashcroft (searchis improving after surgery to remove his gallbladder but remains hospitalized in intensive care, his aides said Thursday Ashcroft's gallbladder was removed Tuesday to prevent a recurrence of gallstone pancreatitis (search), a sometimes-fatal illness that sent the 61-year-old attorney general to the emergency room the evening of March 4.

Justice Department (searchspokesman Mark Corallo said the attorney general is "much better and continues to recover."

There was still no timetable for Ashcroft's release from George Washington University Hospital and no date for when he might return to work. Aides said Ashcroft likely would recuperate at home for a period before resuming his duties at the Justice Department.

Doctors said after the surgery that Ashcroft could expect a complete recovery.