Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Shunt infection confirmed

When they discovered that the shunt was not working, they were able to get 1 drop of spinal fluid out of the reservoir in the shunt, which they sent to the lab.  Yesterday it had not grown any bacteria.  When they did surgery yesterday, they sent some more spinal fluid to the lab.  Earlier this morning, they said that there was some indication that there could be some infection in the they reserved the OR for this afternoon...just in case this was confirmed.  A few minutes ago the Neurosurgeon NP, came and told me that the fluid  from the first sample had indeed grown bacteria, confirming a shunt infection.   What does this mean?  Surgery this afternoon in which her shunt will be externalized.  It will need to be this way until the infection is gone.  When the infection is gone, they will replace the shunt.  So it sounds like she will be going back to surgery somewhere between 3:00 and 4:00pm .  I will try to get another update out later tonight.  Thanks in advance for your prayers!

What does it mean to externalize a shunt?  First, a shunt is made up of three parts:  the catheter which goes into the area which needs draining, the valve, which regulates how fast it drains, and the tube which drains the fluid into the stomach cavity.  Yesterday, he replaced the catheter, which was blocked, and I think maybe the valve also.  However, he left the tube, since it was working, and they did not think that it was infected.  Today, they will take out all parts.  The catheter will get access through the skin, and the valve and tube will  be outside her body and will drain into a bag on an IV pole.  When the infection is gone, new equipment will be put in. 

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