First lady Melania Trump underwent surgery on Monday, May 14, 2018, to treat a benign kidney condition, according to a statement issued by the White House.
The 48-year-old Trump is recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
The intervention, termed an embolization, was successful without any complications, read an announcement from Stephanie Grisham, communications director for the first lady.
Trump is expected to remain in the hospital for the remainder of the week and make a full recovery, according to Grisham
What Is Embolization?
“Embolization is what we refer to as a minimally invasive surgical technique,” says Robert Glatter, MD, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC.
“It’s a procedure that’s intended to choke off blood flow to a tumor or mass in the body, and it is performed by an interventional radiologist.”
The procedure requires inserting a catheter into a primary artery and directing it to a tumor or other region where the blood supply needs to be restricted. Special agents are introduced to clot or form a blockage.
A study published in 2017 in the Journal of Kidney Cancer and VHL reported that embolization is associated with a high clinical success rate of more than 90%, and successful control of a bleeding emergency was reported in 96% to 100 percent of patients.
Common Procedure for Kidney Tumors
While the exact reason for the first lady’s embolization is not known at this point, Dr. Glatter says that she could have an angiomyolipoma (AML), a benign kidney tumor that is more common in women than men and often treated with embolization.
“As these tumors start to grow and expand, there is a risk of bleeding, especially when they are larger than 4 centimeters [about 1.5 inches],” says Glatter.
“The doctors may have decided to embolize the mass due to onset of bleeding or increase in size based on recent imaging and symptoms. As the tumor grows, it can invade arteries and veins, leading to significant bleeding.”
How Do You Know If You Have a Kidney Tumor?
According to the National Library of Medicine, these tumors of fat and muscle tissue rarely cause symptoms.
But they can grow large enough to be painful and lead to kidney failure.
Alex Shteynshlyuger, MD, a urologist in NYC, says on the New York Urology Specialists website that angiomyolipomas can occasionally cause abdominal pain or back pain when they grow large in size or start bleeding.
He says that they are most commonly found incidentally on a renal ultrasound or CT scan.
According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, embolization may be used to treat liver cancer, kidney cancer, and neuroendocrine tumors.
The procedure is also applied to treatment of uterine fibroids and aneurysms.
Why Is the First Lady Still in the Hospital?
Glatter emphasizes that a hospital stay will help ensure that the first lady returns to full health.
“After the procedure, the patient is monitored to ensure that their vital signs remain stable and that there are no signs of bleeding,” he says.