Doctors are seeing a "slight improvement" in Michael Schumacher’s condition, following a second operation during the night to remove a blood clot in his brain, but he is still critically ill and his condition is described as "fragile".
Professor Jean-Francois Payen, head of the intensive care unit at the University Hospital Centre in the south-eastern French city of Grenoble where Schumacher is being treated, told reporters at a media conference on Tuesday: "We are surprised by the improvement, but it is still premature to speculate on his condition," adding that it could still be qualified as "critical".
"The situation is more under control than yesterday but we cannot say that he is out of danger."
"We have won some time but we must continue hour-by-hour surveillance."
Emmanuel Gay, head of the hospital's neurosurgery service, said the operation carried out during the night involved removing a large haematoma - the medical term for a build-up of blood - from the left side of Schumacher's brain.
"It was larger and more accessible than the others," he said. "We judged we could remove it without taking any risks."
He said the operation was designed to reduce the pressure inside the skull on Schumacher's brain, which suffered injuries including lesions and contusions from Sunday's fall.
Doctors earlier warned it was touch-and-go for Schumi, the most successful driver in the history of Formula One, as they waited for the full extent of his injuries to become clear after he fell and slammed his head on a rock while skiing off-piste at at the posh ski resort of Meribel in the French Alps on Sunday morning.
His ski helmet was reportedly ‘smashed in two’ and ‘covered in blood’ after the impact.
Neurosurgeon Stephan Chabardes, who operated on Schumacher on Sunday, stressed that it was too early to say if he would pull through.
Neurologist Jean-Luc Truelle added: “It usually takes 48 hours, or even longer, to be able to formulate an opinion on injuries of this severity.”
Schumacher's wife Corinne and children Gina Maria and Mick were at his side, while a small crowd held a night vigil outside the hospital in the southeastern French city of Grenoble where he is being treated.
His spokeswoman Sabine Kehm said the family had expressed their thanks to the doctors who, they said, were doing “everything possible to help Michael” and to well-wishers around the world, and asked the media to “respect their privacy”. - Reuters, AFP