Senator McCain undergoes brain clot removal surgery

U.S. Senator John McCain, 80, is on the way to recovery after undergoing a craniotomy operation to remove a blood clot from his brain. According to a statement released by the Mayo Clinic where he is being treated, Senator McCain underwent a routine physical examination followed by which the blood clot was detected in his brain. The surgery to remove the blood clot from above his left eye was performed at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix on Friday 14th of July.

U.S. Senator John McCain - Image Credit: Alan Freed /
U.S. Senator John McCain - Image Credit: Alan Freed /

The surgery was deemed to be minimally invasive since it was performed by making a small incision over his eyebrow. A 5 centimetres long clot was removed from the site. The clot has been sent for pathology examination and the reports are pending. For an open brain surgery, a large incision may be required with a part of the skull being opened up for surgery. In a minimally invasive procedure a small key-hole opening is made after radiologically determining where the exact site of the clot is. In this case too, a small incision was made right above the left eye brow so that the surgeons could reach the site of the clot directly and it could be removed.

At present his doctors report that he is on the way to recovery and is resting at home after the successful surgery and is in “good spirits”. Further course of action is still being decided upon and no further information was divulged. He will continue with his recovery in Arizona said an official statement from his office. How big the clot it, its shape and location in the brain could be indicators that could predict how long the Senator would take to recover and return to his job. This was a fairly big clot. Its presence over the front of the brain or the frontal lobe could interfere with cognitive abilities and cause confusion. The Senator has had a melanoma over the left temple in 2000 from which he recovered.

Some experts are speculating that this mass that was removed could be a recurrence of the melanoma rather than a blood clot. He has had three more melanomas removed from his left shoulder, left arm and left nasal wall (removed in 1993, 2000 and 2002 respectively). These were all non-invasive meaning that they had not crossed the skin to deeper tissues. But it is because of these melanomas in the past that the Senator was undergoing a routine physical examination. Nothing more can be said about this until the pathological reports are in say the official statements from the hospital and the Senator’s office at present.

This surgery resulted in the putting off of the vote on the healthcare bill that was due. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to delay the vote on healthcare bill until Senator McCain recovered fully to return to the Senate. This new healthcare bill that was to be voted upon was to repeal and replace the present Affordable Care Act. The actual dates of when the Senator would be back and when the votes can take place are still unclear at present. According to experts it may take his around four to six weeks to return to work.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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