Monday, February 1, 2010

No Spinal Tap Today

Today Katelyn was tentatively scheduled to undergo another spinal tap (aka lumbar puncture or LP). However, the lead neurosurgeon decided not to perform the spinal tap. Considering that Katelyn's proteins levels were already low at the last spinal tap, this doctor felt confident that her protein levels would have come down enough. The protein levels largely reflect the amount of blood that is mixed in the CSF fluid. If the protein levels are high, the shunt could get clogged and would then need to be replaced. Several websites have noted that repeated lumbar taps are not a very effective way to treat hydrocephalus and that, if the hydrocephalus does not resolve after the first draining, then a shunt is the better option.

Katelyn's shunt surgery is still tentatively scheduled for Friday. Apparently, the surgical team that would perform the shunt placement is also performing another surgery on Friday, so they hope to perform the two surgeries on the same day. A shunt is basically a drainage tube that has a valve that shuts off when the proper fluid pressure is achieved. The tube goes into the ventricles - the empty space in the middle of the brain (see picture) which is filled with CSF - and drains down into the abdomen. All of the tube is under the skin so the shunt will not be visible. More information on the procedure will be forthcoming.

Once again, we're thankful that Katelyn continues to function well: no vomiting, no seizures, and that she still has been eating well.

P.S. The brain you see here belongs to Katelyn's uncle Curt. The views are from the side, from the front, and from above. Red arrows point to the ventricles in each picture.

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