Ask Dr. Nandi: What we know - and don't know - about Melania Trump's procedure

Posted at 5:23 PM, May 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-16 17:23:41-04

First Lady Melania Trump was treated for a benign kidney condition on Monday and is expected to remain at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for the rest of the week.   

The First Lady underwent an embolization procedure that the White House reported was successful and she’s expected to make a full recovery. 

First of all, it’s great that the First Lady is doing very well and that there were no complications from her procedure.   

We don’t know for sure what kind of kidney condition she actually had. 

Embolizations can be used to treat a cyst or a fibroid, however the most common kidney condition it’s used to treat is called angiomyolipoma. This is a benign or non-cancerous tumor in the kidney that contains muscle, fat and a tangle of blood vessels. 

The exact cause of angiomyolipoma is not known.

Embolizations are generally used to stop bleeding or to cut off the blood supply to a fibroid or tumor. 

What happens is a tiny plastic tube called a catheter is threaded to the artery connected to the tumor and a special sponge-like material is used to block off the blood supply. This causes it to die and shrink and hopefully ease up any symptoms she may have been experiencing. 

But not everyone experiences symptoms - if you do, it can be sudden pain, nausea, vomiting, anemia and hypertension.

Question: What sort of side-effects could happen from having an embolization? 

This depends on how complex the situation is. 

If the growth was large, more side effects can happen that would need to be monitored. 

Embolization can kill some of the healthy kidney tissue and this may cause swelling and pain. And some people can also experience fever.   

How long a person stays in the hospital for recovery does vary, some go home the same day, while others stay longer. 

I’m sure the First Lady is getting excellent care and her length of stay may be longer simply because those taking care of her are being extra cautious.