Archive for November 2009


11/28/09 – Shunt Revision Surgery

Yesterday Renny had surgery on her shunt.  The catheter that goes into the ventricle of her brain was getting too short, so they had to replace it with a longer one.  The catheter acts kind of like a straw, pulling the fluid from her brain up through the shunt and through the other tubing that travels down into her stomach where the fluid deposits.   (Most people have a natural route for this fluid near the base of our skull, but most with SB have that route blocked because the base of the brain has been pulled down over that opening .  Thus what causes hydrocephalus, and thus the need for the shunt).  I think I have that all right…!

We left the night of Thanksgiving to travel the 2 hours where the hospital is.   She was to hopefully have surgery the next morning at 7:30, unless an emergency surgery came up.

The next morning two emergency surgeries came up, and the surgery wouldn’t be until 1:00.  Though we knew that may happen, we were quite disappointed.  We had to keep Renny busy with no food and drinks until 11:30 when we would check in.  We were staying at a Ronald McDonald House, which had a nice playroom for her.  (Thanks to all who donate and volunteer there!)

We checked in early and she was in surgery by 12:30.  About an hour later, the neurosurgeon came back and said everything went very very well.  What he did was open her existing scar where her shunt is, put some type of wiring in through the old tubing, slipped the old tubing out, placed in the new, longer tubing, and then pulled out the wiring.  He seemed very pleased with everything and said that if she was well she could go home later that day.

When we came to the Recovery Room to see her, she was screaming…a lot.  This seems to be her norm after waking up from surgery – the effects of the anesthesia on her, I guess.  Finally, after they put in a Dora movie on a portable DVD player and placed it on a tray directly in front of her (and after giving her more morphine!), she slowly settled down.  A couple of hours later, she had drank 4 bottles of apple juice, scarfed down chocolate pudding, a fruit cup, and a full plate of mac-n-cheese, and was smiling again.  We were discharged by 6:30 that night and went home.

For our post-op instructions, she has only been directed to take acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen to manage any pain, and we have to wait 3 days before we can (carefully) wash her head and then watch for any discharge at the site of the wound.  The greatest risk now is infection.  Though it happens in only 2-5/100 surgeries, if the shunt or tubing areas get infected, then they have to redo EVERYTHING, and that is a big pain.  So we also have to watch for signs of infection, like fever, vomiting, and any behavior that shows she is not well.

Thank you to those who prayed for her.  We are so happy that it went so well!  Please pray now that she would remain free from infection.

Here are some pictures from the surgery.  You can click on each to enlarge: