Melania Trump Undergoes Kidney Surgery

Melania Trump: What is a kidney embolization and why is it done?

First lady Melania Trump underwent a procedure on one of her kidneys Monday at Walter Reed Hospital that is designed to cut off the blood supply to a tumor or abnormal growth.

The procedure, called an embolization, was performed on the first lady Monday morning, a White House press release said. The procedure, according to WebMD, is non-invasive and recovery is generally quick. The White House said the first lady was suffering from a “benign condition.”

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Trump is said to be doing well following the embolization.

Here’s a look at the procedure she underwent.

What is an embolization procedure?

The procedure is performed to cut off the blood supply to a tumor or abnormal growth in the liver or kidney. When the blood supply is cut off, the mass will shrink.

How is it done?

A radiologist uses imaging guidance to insert a catheter into an artery. The catheter is moved through the artery and into blood vessels that feed the tumor or abnormal growth, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. The vessels are cauterized, and blood supply to the tumor is then cut off.

"Kidney embolization procedures are generally well-tolerated," Dr. John Friedewald, M.D., of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, told Women's Health. 

Why is it done?

The procedure can be done for many reasons, including relieving pain or cutting off blood supply to a tumor to reduce bleeding if there is a surgery to remove the mass.

According to the Cancer Centers of American website, “Embolization may often be used to treat internal bleeding and help prevent heavy bleeding during surgery. In some cases, embolization may be a treatment option for difficult-to-reach, inoperable tumors. It may also be used to treat tumors that are too large to be ablated.”

There are two types of benign kidney tumors that could require embolization. One is angiomyolipoma, a mass made up of a collection of blood vessels and fat cells.

The other one is an arteriovenous malformation or AVM. AVMs are common and are made up of a collection of veins and arteries that combine to create a mass. 

The White House said the first lady’s condition is “benign.” What does that mean?

A benign condition means that whatever is wrong – and the White House has not revealed what that is – it is not cancerous and it is contained, meaning it has not spread. Common benign conditions can be kidney cysts or unusual growths such as the angiomyolipoma or AVMs.

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