Reports Indicate John McCain’s Surgery Might Be More Serious Than Thought

July 17, 2017 Updated: July 17, 2017

Sen. John McCain, the longtime Republican senator from Arizona, is recovering at home Monday after surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye.

A statement from his office says the clot was found during a routine physical last week.

“Surgeons successfully removed the 5-cm blood clot during a minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision. Tissue pathology reports are pending within the next several days,” the statement reads. “The Senator is resting comfortably at home and is in good condition. His Mayo Clinic doctors report that the surgery went ‘very well’ and he is in good spirits. Once the pathology information is available, further care will be discussed between doctors and the family. In the meantime, his Mayo Clinic care team will not be conducting interviews.”

McCain, meanwhile, is “in good spirits and recovering comfortably at home with his family,” and based “on the advice of his doctors, Senator McCain will be recovering in Arizona next week,” according to the statement.

Sen. John McCain (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Sen. John McCain (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

But the New York Times is reporting that McCain’s condition after surgery on Friday might be worse than his office is letting on. According to the New York Times:

“Usually, a blood clot in this area would be a very concerning issue,” said Dr. Nrupen Baxi, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Albert Einstein College in New York, reported the Times.

He added, “The recovery time from a craniotomy is usually a few weeks.”

“Usually, a blood clot like this is discovered when patients have symptoms, whether it’s a seizure or headaches or weakness or speech difficulties,” Baxi said. “Generally, it’s not found on a routine physical because doctors would not know to look for it.”


The cause of the clot was not disclosed.

And neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta told CNN that McCain underwent a “significant operation,” adding that general anesthesia was used and “there was obviously an abnormality that was concerning enough for him to go through this.”

“They’re calling it a blood clot. When it’s removed, you want to look at it specifically under the microscope and see if there’s anything that indicated this could be melanoma. You try to remove this early and aggressively,” Gupta said.

In 2000, McCain was diagnosed with melanoma.

This weekend, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn announced that the Senate expects to hold a vote on the revised GOP-sponsored health care bill. “We wish John McCain a speedy recovery, and we need him in more ways than one,” Cornyn, R-Texas, told NBC News on Sunday. “But yes, I believe that when we have a full contingent of Senators that we’ll have that vote and it’s important that we do so,” he added.