McCain's Recovery Time After Surgery Uncertain, Experts Say

From Drugs.com - July 17, 2017

McCain's Recovery Time After Surgery Uncertain, Experts Say

MONDAY, July 17, 2017 -- A pending pathology report will reveal the health risk posed by a blood clot that forced U.S. Sen. John McCain to undergo brain surgery last week, experts say.

The future of the Affordable Care Act may rest on McCain's recovery and return to Congress. A Senate vote to repeal the ACA -- often called Obamacare -- was shelved after McCain, 80, underwent a minimally invasive craniotomy above his left eye Friday. Doctors drilled into his skull and removed a roughly 2-inch blood clot, according to a statement from his office.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs McCain's support if he is to dismantle the ACA, a longstanding Republican goal. Repeal of the Obama health care act will require approval from 50 of the Senate's 52 Republicans, and two have already pledged to oppose the bill. McConnell has said voting will start when McCain, who is serving his sixth term, returns to work.

McCain is in good spirits and will spend the week recovering in his home state of Arizona, his office said.

Follow-up tissue pathology expected any day will determine the cause of the brain bleeding, and whether McCain will require further treatment, said Dr. Amir Dehdashti, a neurosurgeon with Northwell Health's Neuroscience Institute in Manhasset, N.Y.

McCain has a history of melanoma, a dangerous skin cancer that can spread to the brain and cause bleeding, Dehdashti noted.

However, it's more likely that McCain simply developed a blood clot in his brain, said Dr. Joshua Bederson, chair of neurosurgery for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. Such blood clots in the 80-year-old age group occur commonly, while brain tumors caused by melanoma are very rare, he added.

These clots can occur due to blood thinners or aspirin regularly prescribed to seniors, particularly if they suffer some sort of head injury, Dehdashti said.

A week's recovery following a craniotomy of the type indicated by the senator's office sounds about right, Dehdashti said.

"If the bleeding did not involve the functional areas of the brain, then one week is reasonable," Dehdashti said.

Bederson agreed that McCain should recover quickly, barring any unforeseen health problems.

"I have operated on a lot of people like this -- high-powered people who are still in their prime, and they make a full recovery," Bederson said.

However, several questions remain regarding McCain's condition, and the answers could mean more recovery time or treatment, Dehdashti said.

For example, the senator's office has not said whether McCain suffered any neurological effects from the blood clot, such as problems with speech or reasoning, Dehdashti said.

The fact that doctors only needed a small opening to remove a relatively large blood clot indicates that the clot had been there for some time, said Bederson.


Continue reading at Drugs.com »