In a somewhat vague statement, the White House revealed first lady Melania Trump underwent an “embolization procedure” on Monday morning to address a “benign kidney condition.”
“The procedure was successful and there were no complications,” the statement said, adding that Trump, 48, would “likely” remain hospitalized at at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, for the rest of the week.
President Donald Trump remained at the White House—but planned to visit his wife later in the day, according to reports.
“Just heard news that @FLOTUS underwent surgery today. Sincere wishes for her speedy recovery,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted.
So what is an “embolization” procedure? According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, the procedure “may reduce or cut off the supply of blood to a tumor or abnormal growth.”
“In this procedure, an interventional radiologist uses imaging guidance to insert a catheter into a primary artery and advance it to blood vessel leading to a tumor or other area where the bloody supply needs to be blocked,” the organization’s website says. “Special substances which clot and form a blockage are then injected.”
While the particulars of Melania Trump’s kidney condition aren’t yet known, Dr. Mohamad Allaf, the director of Minimally Invasive and Robotic Urological Surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, said patients most commonly undergo the procedure if they have “a benign kidney tumor, a growth in the kidney.”
“The most common benign tumor of the kidney is something called a angiomyolipoma,” he explained. “Angio meaning blood vessel, myo meaning muscle, lipoma meaning fat.”
But he added that angiomyolipoma is not common for men or women Trump’s age. “It would be a rare kidney condition,” Allaf said.
“The other condition that would cause embolization and is even more rare than angio is some kind of vascular malformation—an abnormality if the blood vessels themselves,” he added. “For example, an aneurysm in the kidney that’s detected—usually these things are detected incidentally.”
Allaf found it curious that Trump’s procedure required such a lengthy hospital stay, describing it as “atypical.”
“It is typically an outpatient procedure. People would get embolized and go home the same day or night,” he explained. “In the press release, it said she would be out for the rest of the week, and we’re on Monday. So to me, that implies that either the situation is a little bit more complex or perhaps, if it is an aneurysm or a tumor or a growth, it’s either complex or large.”
Trump is hardly the only first lady to undergo a medical procedure while in the White House. In 1987, Nancy Reagan underwent a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Five years earlier, she had a cancerous growth removed from her upper lip.
Just last week, Trump unveiled her “Be Best” initiative for children, which focuses on three areas: well-being, social media, and opioid abuse.
“The First Lady looks forward to a full recovery so she can continue her work on behalf of children everywhere,” the White House statement said.