Sen. Mark Kirk has gallbladder removed

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, who returned to Congress after suffering stroke last year, had his gallbladder removed Monday due to an unrelated medical issue.

Kirk underwent surgery around 9:30 a.m. Monday at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital and was resting comfortably by early afternoon, Dr. Kim Sobinsky, who performed the procedure, told The Associated Press.

The Highland Park Republican checked into the hospital Saturday after experiencing stomach pains. After conducting tests, including an MRI, doctors determined Kirk had gallstones, hard deposits that can form in the gallbladder. According to the Mayo Clinic, gallstones are common and occur in about 10 to 15 percent of adults in the United States.

“This really had nothing to do with the stroke,” Sobinsky said.

The hospital said Kirk had his gallbladder removed in a “minimally invasive” procedure that lasted about 30 minutes. Sobinsky said doctors made four incisions in the senator’s abdomen, the largest about a centimeter long and the others half that length. Sobinsky said there were no complications and that Kirk could be released from the hospital as early as Tuesday.

The 54-year-old Kirk made a triumphant return to Congress last year after suffering a stroke in January 2012 that left him partially paralyzed on his left side and blind in one quadrant of his left eye. While physical challenges remain, Kirk’s doctors have said the senator’s stamina has increased over time. Kirk plans to run for re-election in 2016.

Kirk spokesman Lance Trover said the senator will miss votes in Washington this week before Congress breaks for holiday recess. Trover said these are the first votes Kirk has missed since his return.