The New Adventure

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

If I Only had a Brain...

So it's time for an update of sorts. McKenzie had her doctor's appointment in Birmingham with Dr. Oakes today. We had to wait until she was a few months old so she could handle the anesthesia better since the doctor wanted an MRI of the head.

We spent the night in Birmingham since the MRI was scheduled for 6:30am this morning. Early mornings are fun! So, McKenzie tolerated the lack of feeding much better than Molly would have and had no issues at all with the anesthesia or the MRI itself. We were done and released from the recovery room by 9:30 this morning. Then we went and waited to meet with Dr. Oakes. 

Dr. Oakes showed us the scans. The mass within her ventricle in the brain had gotten quite a bit larger since December. The mass is a fairly large cyst. The doctor is concerned because McKenzie's head circumference is crossing lines on the growth chart. Back in December, she was in the 25th percentile; today, she measured out in the 75th percentile. Not good since the brain is apparently getting bigger at a rate faster than her skull is growing. As a result, things are starting to get squished and pushed around.

So, our options were presented as either we have surgery or we don't. If we don't have surgery and just wait to do something until she's showing some sort of symptoms, we're playing with the danger of permanent brain damage being done. That probably wouldn't be a good thing.

The surgical option is something called a cyst fenestration. It's a endoscopic procedure where the doctor would cut a small hole, drill through the skull, and insert a tiny "telescope". Once inserted, the scope would be pushed down through the brain until they reach the ventricle where the cyst is. They would then punch a hole in the cyst and allow it to drain normally.

It's a fairly simple procedure (simple for brain surgery at least) that would only take 30 - 45 minutes. We'd spend a night in the hospital and then be able to go home the next day as long as there are no complications.

The doctor feels good about this procedure being effective. We are trying to avoid having a shunt installed simply because a shunt is something that will be there forever. The cyst fenestration is effective between 65 and 75% effective to where if we do it, there's a 65 - 75% chance that it will completely solve the problem and we'll never have to do anything else.

That might sound like a bad percentage but I'd rather have a second operation than a shunt replacement every 10 years. The doctor told us that the chances of "serious and permanent" damages as a result of the surgery are about 1 in 35. That's less than 3%.

So, that's the info. It isn't necessarily what we wanted to hear today but it is something we have to deal with. The doctor has told us that this isn't emergent but it is something that we need to handle in the next few weeks to a month. So, it looks like we'll be back in Birmingham before the end of April.

We have to call the doctor tomorrow to schedule the procedure. I'm sure we'll let everyone know what's going on when we know it. Brain surgery isn't something to be taken lightly but we're trying hard to push through it right now.

We'll post more details as we get them. We've got one of the best pediatric neurosurgeon's in the country working with us so we feel confident in our course of action. We ask for your prayers of support as we go through the next month or so...

Til later...

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