Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin cancels overseas trip following hospitalization

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was put under general anesthesia on Monday at the hospital for a non-surgical procedure to treat an “emergent bladder issue,” his doctors said in a statement.

They said he will be able to resume his normal duties Tuesday and that “a prolonged hospital stay is not anticipated.”

Austin was forced to cancel a planned trip to Brussels this week as a result of the medical episode.

Austin’s hospitalization, which began Sunday, was the secretary’s third since his diagnosis of prostate cancer last December. Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder couldn’t say Monday during a press briefing what type of medical procedure Austin received, and whether his bladder issue was a complication from his Dec. 22 surgery for prostate cancer or an unrelated matter.

Ryder did say the secretary no longer required further treatment associated with his cancer diagnosis other than physical therapy to address lingering leg pain.

“He is expected to make a full recovery,” he said.

The Pentagon had announced last week that Austin would be traveling to Brussels to attend a monthly meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, the more than 50 countries providing military aid to Ukraine, and a separate meeting of NATO defense ministers.

Ryder said the meeting would now be virtual.

Austin’s hospitalization was made public shortly after his security detail took him to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday. Ryder said the White House was notified in advance of the secretary being driven to the hospital.

“At approximately 4:55 pm today, Secretary Austin transferred the functions and duties of the office of the Secretary of Defense to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks,” Ryder said in an earlier statement. “The Deputy Secretary of Defense has assumed the functions and duties. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House, and Congress have been notified.”

Late Sunday night, Austin’s doctors at Walter Reed — Dr. John Maddox and Dr. Gregory Chesnut — said he had been admitted to the critical care unit.

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