Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega is in critical condition after undergoing two brain surgeries.

Noriega, a former general ruled Panama with an iron fist in 1983-89, underwent the first procedure Tuesday morning to remove a benign tumor from his brain.

But after that surgery, doctors discovered a hemorrhage that forced them to go back in that afternoon, his daughters and lawyer said.

The dictator pictured in 1988 Credit: AP

The 83-year-old is in a critical condition in intensive care at Santo Tomas public hospital in Panama City, attorney Ezra Angel said Tuesday night.

"He is sedated," the lawyer said. "His condition is critical after undergoing a (second) open brain surgery in less than eight hours."

Noriega was transferred from prison to house arrest for the surgery Credit: AP

Noriega was transferred from prison to house arrest at the end of January to prepare for the procedure.

The former dictator was ousted by a US invasion in 1989 and jailed for years in the United States on drug charges.

He was then imprisoned in France for money laundering, before being returned in 2011 to Panama, where he had already been convicted in absentia.