MOSCOW – Former President Boris Yeltsin (search) underwent hip surgery Thursday in a Moscow (search) hospital, a day after he fell and broke a leg while vacationing on an Italian island, Russian news agencies reported.
Yeltsin, 74, was recovering after the operation, which proceeded with "no complications," Dr. Valery Zolotov told the ITAR-Tass news agency.
"Boris Yeltsin is fully awake, blood pressure and other medical indicators are fully normal," Zolotov was quoted as saying.
Yeltsin spokesman Vladimir Shevchenko also confirmed the surgery to the Interfax news agency.
On Wednesday, Yeltsin broke his thigh bone while staying at a home in the exclusive resort town of Porto Rotondo (search) on the island of Sardinia, according to Italian paramedics. He initially was treated at the San Giovanni di Dio hospital in Olbia, said Dr. Maria Serena Fenu.
Interfax had reported he planned to return to Moscow on a private jet for immediate hospitalization.
There is a high death rate among people over 65 who need surgery after breaking a femur, said Dr. Todd Schlifstein, an orthopedist and rehab physician at New York University Medical Center's Rusk Institute, who specializes in falls among the elderly.
"When you're over 65, falls are very common and they can be catastrophic at times," Schlifstein said.
The ensuing lack of mobility during recovery also can produce its own host of complications, including possible blood clots, surgical wound infections and pneumonia, he said.
"Surgery is a big, dramatic event that can open a lot of other doors to other problems," Schlifstein said.
One of the most notable patients who had hip surgery after breaking a thigh bone was Pope John Paul II, who fell in his bathroom in 1994.
Dr. David Diduch, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Virginia Medical Center, said the high death rate often has to do with the patients' other illnesses, such as heart, lung and kidney ailments.
Yeltsin, Russia's first elected president after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, has kept a low profile since resigning Dec. 31, 1999, appearing only occasionally at tennis tournaments or to greet foreign officials.
During the final years of his presidency, he was dogged by health problems, retreating regularly to his country residence outside Moscow and spending days, and sometimes weeks, away from the Kremlin.
In retirement, he has concentrated on health-boosting regimens, traveling to China and other destinations for treatment.
Porto Rotondo is an exclusive resort on Sardinia's Emerald Coast. Premier Silvio Berlusconi, among others, has a home nearby.