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John McCain Had a Craniotomy to Take away a Blood Clot. Right here’s What That Means

Senator John McCain is recovering from minimally invasive surgical procedure carried out Friday “to take away a blood clot from above his left eye,” based on a assertion from his workplace . His absence from the Senate has brought about Majority Chief Mitch McConnell to delay a vote on Republicans’ proposed well being care invoice.

Through the process, referred to as a craniotomy, surgeons efficiently eliminated a 5-centimeter clot by way of an eyebrow incision. McCain is resting comfortably and is in good sprits, the assertion provides, and can spend the week at residence in Arizona.

Some docs acquainted with blood clots and craniotomies—however not concerned in McCain’s case—say that one of these operation may point out a extra critical situation. Two neurosurgeons TIME spoke with say that the senator’s prognosis—and the way rapidly he can get again to the Senate voting chamber—will seemingly rely on the clot’s underlying trigger.

A blood clot described as “above the attention” may both be within the mind or simply outdoors it, says Dr. Joseph Serrone, assistant professor of neurological surgical procedure at Loyola College Well being System. Such a clot could possibly be brought on by various issues, together with a bump on the pinnacle or a minor stroke which may in any other case go unnoticed.

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The danger for bleeding in or across the mind is greater for individuals who take aspirin or blood thinners, says Serrone. “These lower the physique’s capability to clot correctly, and so if there’s a small trauma or perhaps a spontaneous hemorrhage, blood can construct up and that may be very critical.” (It isn’t identified whether or not McCain takes any of those medicines.)

A clot also can point out a tumor, says Dr. Steven Kalkanis, chairman of the division of neurosurgery at Henry Ford Well being System. As a result of McCain has a historical past of melanoma—together with a surgical procedure in 2000 to take away a tumor on his left temple—the clot will seemingly be examined intently “to see whether or not it’s solely blood, or if there are tumor cells in there that would characterize a recurrence.”

The assertion from McCain’s workplace notes that tissue pathology experiences are anticipated “inside the subsequent a number of days” and that additional care will then be mentioned between the senator’s docs and household.

McCain’s earlier melanoma diagnoses may have been what prompted docs to find the brand new clot. Whereas the senator’s assertion says Friday’s process was carried out “after a routine bodily,” one of these abnormality is normally recognized through a CT scan or different kind of mind imaging—not one thing that will usually be a part of a check-up.

“It’s doable his docs had been being very diligent about the potential for melanoma spreading and he was getting common scans due to that,” says Kalkanis. “In any other case he must say one thing like, ‘I’m having hassle seeing’ or ‘I’m having hassle with my speech’ that will immediate a physician to incorporate a CT scan or MRI.”

As for the surgical procedure itself, craniotomies carried out in a minimally invasive means—by way of a tiny incision across the eyelid or eyebrow—are usually properly tolerated and heal rapidly. “I feel they mentioned he’d be again subsequent week, and I might anticipate that to be the case,” Kalkanis says. “It appears like issues went easily, so I wouldn’t anticipate him to have any neurological points.”

Kalkanis additionally says individuals mustn’t soar to conclusions that McCain’s clot is expounded to most cancers or something that would trigger lasting issues. “He’s an 80-year-old man; he may have had a small stroke or had some small trauma,” he says. “It doesn’t imply his well being is in jeopardy.”

Nonetheless, Serrone says that bleeding within the cranium is definitely “a really critical situation and a really critical public well being problem,” particularly for older individuals. “The mind is held on this inflexible cranium,” he says, “and for those who put one thing in there that doesn’t belong, it’s going to place stress on the mind that may trigger important injury and have an effect on your motor energy, language capability, and so forth.”

Though the reason for McCain’s blood clot continues to be unknown, his analysis generally is a reminder for individuals to concentrate to their very own neurological well being, Serrone says. “In the event you bump your head and have any sort of unusual signs afterward, that’s one thing that needs to be examined by a physician—particularly for sufferers who’re on blood thinners,” he says.

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