After being transferred to hospital following his handbike accident during a race event in Italy on Friday, Zanardi had three hours of neurosurgery and maxillofacial surgery (related to the face).
An official bulletin issued on Saturday morning said that after the surgery Zanardi had been “transferred to intensive care, has stable hemodynamic and metabolic parameters. He is intubated and supported by artificial ventilation while the neurological picture remains serious.”
Dr Giuseppe Olivieri, the head of neurosurgery at Siena’s Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital, spoke to media later on Saturday.
“The condition of Alex Zanardi is serious but stable,” AP reported Dr Olivieri as saying. “He arrived here with major facial cranial trauma, a smashed face, and a deeply fractured frontal bone [forehead]. The numbers are good, although it remains a very serious situation.
“We won’t see what his neurological state is until he wakes up — if he wakes up. Serious condition means it’s a situation when someone could die. Improvement takes time in these cases.
“Turns for the worse can be sudden. The operation went according to the plan. It’s the initial situation that was very serious.”
Regarding the next steps Dr Olivieri said: “The next step is to try and stabilise him over the next week or 10 days. Then if things go well, he could eventually be woken up and re-evaluated.
“As I told his wife, he’s a patient who is worth being treated. As far as a prognosis of how he’ll be tomorrow, in a week or in 15 days, I don’t know. But I’m convinced that he should be treated.”
Sabino Scolletta, the director of the hospital’s intensive care unit, added: “The situation is clearly critical in terms of brain damage.”
Update: On Sunday morning, the hospital issued a new statement regarding Zanardi’s condition: “Regarding the clinical conditions of the athlete Alex Zanardi, hospitalised at the polyclinic Santa Maria alle Scotte in Siena since June 19 following a road accident, the Health Department informs that the patient spent the night in conditions of cardio-respiratory and metabolic stability.
“Organ functions are adequate. He is always sedated, intubated and mechanically ventilated. The ongoing neuromonitoring has shown some stability but this figure must be taken with caution because the neurological picture remains serious.
“The current conditions of general stability still do not allow to exclude the possibility of adverse events and, therefore, the patient remains in a reserved prognosis.”