Pietersen has been struggling with his Achilles injury all year
England batsman Kevin Pietersen has been ruled out of the rest of the Ashes series against Australia after undergoing Achilles tendon surgery.
The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed the 29-year-old had an operation on Wednesday and will be out of action for up to six weeks.
Pietersen said: "The Ashes are the pinnacle of the game so I'm devastated to be missing the rest of this series."
Ian Bell looks set to come in for next week's third Test at Edgbaston.
England coach Andy Flower has indicated the Warwickshire batsman, who has been in impressive form for his county, was next in line, having been included in the squad for the first two Tests.
Bell scored a century against Lancashire last week and has amassed 640 runs at an average of 80 in 11 county championship innings this season.
I hate missing matches for England and especially during an Ashes summer
Speaking on Tuesday before learning of Pietersen's surgery, Bell told BBC Sport: "It's great to know I'm next in line.
"Obviously I'm desperate to be back in an England shirt and I'm ready and waiting to go."
BBC Sport's cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew admitted the news of Pietersen's surgery was a surprise.
"Being their leading batsman this deals a huge blow to England's hopes of regaining the Ashes," he said.
"Most people thought there was a chance he may miss one Test, but not the rest of the series.
"Bell will presumably return, possibly at three, which would take the heat off Ravi Bopara who hasn't looked convincing there so far this series. Rob Key will be another batsman to come under discussion.
Pietersen most talented - Flintoff
"So fingers will be even more firmly crossed that Andrew Flintoff can make it through to the end of the Ashes. He says he remains confident of playing at Edgbaston next week."
Flintoff is battling an ongoing knee injury that has forced him to announce his retirement from Test cricket at the end of the Ashes series.
Pietersen first experienced discomfort earlier this year and missed the one-day series against West Indies to recuperate. But the combination of rest and painkilling injections could not get him through the Ashes campaign.
The ECB's chief medical officer Nick Peirce said that Pietersen had seen the world's leading Achilles specialist and a decision was made to operate on his right Achilles tendon.
"A number of short-term measures were considered but having been reviewed by the specialist, who flew into London from Sweden specifically, it was felt that anything else would put the tendon at risk and jeopardise his long-term recovery," explained Peirce.
"The operation involved a small incision and trimming of the blood vessels and nerves around the inflamed tendon and appears, at this early stage, to have been routine."
Pietersen scored 153 runs in the first two Ashes Tests, at an average of 38.
"I hate missing matches for England and especially during an Ashes summer," he added.
"Up until now the Achilles injury has been manageable but it recently reached the point where we needed to look at other options in terms of treatment.
"I was pleased with the previous course of treatment as it allowed me to take part in this Ashes series but unfortunately the injury has recently deteriorated.
"To leave a winning dressing-room at this time is heartbreaking but it wouldn't be fair to the team or myself to continue given the severity of the injury.
"I'll be supporting the team closely and wish them the best of luck as they look to build on the brilliant win at Lord's and reclaim the Ashes."
The hosts lead the best-of-five match series 1-0 after the first two Tests.
England has been fined for a slow over-rate in the 115-run victory over Australia in the second Ashes Test.
The International Cricket Council fined captain Andrew Strauss 20% of his match fee while the rest of the team lost 10%.
Match referee Jeff Crowe said the hosts were two overs short of their target at the end of the match.
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