RIO DE JANEIRO — President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil faced possible emergency surgery for an intestinal obstruction after doctors on Wednesday ordered that he be flown to a hospital in São Paulo for evaluation, the government said.
The obstruction is related to a stabbing injury Mr. Bolsonaro suffered in 2018 as he campaigned for president. He had complained in recent days about a persistent bout of hiccups, which had lasted more than 10 days, but it was unclear whether that was related.
Mr. Bolsonaro was taken to a military hospital in Brasília, the capital, early on Wednesday after waking up with a severe stomach ache, aides said. The doctor who oversaw the surgeries after the 2018 stabbing determined that Mr. Bolsonaro should travel to São Paulo for additional tests.
Based on the outcome of those tests, the president might undergo “an emergency surgery,” his office said in a statement.
Mr. Bolsonaro posted a photo of himself on Instagram in which he can be seen lying shirtless on a hospital bed with a nasal tube and an IV in his arm.
“One more challenge resulting from an assassination attempt,” the caption in the photo says. “It was a cruel attack not just against me but against our democracy.”
In recent interviews and public appearances Mr. Bolsonaro, 66, has looked and sounded unwell.
“I apologize to all the people who are listening, because I’ve had the hiccups for five days,” the president said in a radio interview last week. He said at the time that recent dental surgery had probably caused the hiccups. “Perhaps as a result of the drugs I’m taking, I’ve had hiccups 24 hours a day,” he added.
The 2018 stabbing, which severely injured Mr. Bolsonaro’s intestines, required multiple surgeries and a lengthy recovery that effectively knocked him off the campaign trail in the final stretch. Mr. Bolsonaro nonetheless pulled off a decisive victory. The president has suggested — without evidence — that political rivals masterminded the attack.
A judge in 2019 found that the assailant was mentally ill and as such could not be convicted of a crime. The judge ordered that the assailant, Adélio Bispo de Oliveira, be held at a mental health ward in the prison system until public safety officials determine he no longer poses a threat.
Mr. Bolsonaro’s latest health troubles come as his popularity has declined amid overlapping scandals and crises stemming from the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers and prosecutors are investigating allegations that senior officials at the health ministry sought kickbacks earlier this year as they negotiated the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines.