U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to resume normal duties on Tuesday after undergoing nonsurgical procedures over a bladder issue, doctors said.

Austin's health status was disclosed Monday, a day after he was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington, his second hospitalization since his prostate cancer surgery in December.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (L) and his South Korean counterpart Shin Won Sik attend a ceremony for the 55th Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul on Nov. 13, 2023. (Kyodo)

"The current bladder issue is not expected to change his anticipated full recovery," the doctors at the medical center said in a statement. "His cancer prognosis remains excellent."

They said Austin was under general anesthesia while the nonsurgical procedures were carried out. The Defense Department said Sunday that he had been admitted to the hospital due to "symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue."

During a press briefing Monday, department spokesman Pat Ryder stopped short of saying whether the issue arose as a complication of the surgery or as a separate ailment.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said President Joe Biden has no concern about Austin's ability to serve.

Austin returned to work at the Pentagon in late January after causing a political uproar for hiding his prostate cancer diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization.

His failure to notify Biden and senior administration officials about the diagnosis, and his silence for days after being transferred to the hospital on New Year's Day, raised questions about his credibility and U.S. national security.

The Pentagon promptly disclosed the 70-year-old's latest hospitalization. It also said the White House, Congress and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been notified.

Austin has transferred authorities to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

As Austin remains hospitalized, Ryder said his planned trip to Brussels to take part in NATO defense talks has been canceled.


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