Colin Loves Tractors Follow Colin's progress through treatment for a brain tumor

June 17, 2009

Post-Surgical Update

Colin went into surgery on Tuesday, June 16. Mom got to carry him into the operating room and stay with him until they administered the sedatives. They got started later than originally expected and got off to a slow start getting the IVs in place.

The first part of the procedure involved installing a drain for the fluid in his head in order to relieve pressure on his brain. This will remain in place for the time being but may come out if the pressure stabilizes.

The second part of the procedure entailed the removal of easily accessible parts of the tumor. The surgeons performed biopsies along the way; the tumor shows different characteristics that probably reflect various growth patterns throughout Colin’s life. Fortunately, they were able to create a clear path in the ventricle that will hopefully open that passageway enough to allow the fluid to flow again freely.

Because of the size of the tumor and its location, there was no expectation that they would be able to remove the entire thing. The doctors elected to stop removing material once they encountered large blood vessels in order to reduce the risk of problems. No matter what, it would have been needlessly risky for them to round the bend under the bottom of the cerebellum. All told, they took out around half of the tumor.

Various sections of the tumor are being examined by pathologists, and we expect to get results within a week, but it could realistically take that long. Until the diagnosis, a definitive treatment plan is not possible. Also, it isn’t possible to pursue additional treatments until Colin has healed from this surgery.

Although the risk of mortality from this procedure is relatively low, there is always a possibility that the brain can be affected. The surgeons did not touch the cerebellum but were working next to it. In addition, bleeding can occur either as a result of the installation of the drain or the tumor resection. A post-operative CT scan cleared Colin of bleeding, which was the most immediate concern.

While Colin spent the evening and half of the following day sedated, the doctors took him off the sedatives early in the afternoon and he has been starting to wake up. He is responsive to sound and touch, opening his eyes and moving a bit. Importantly, he is breathing on his own, so it looks good for removal of the breathing tube this afternoon.

We are relieved and excited that Colin has gone through is first procedure with flying colors. This surgery was absolutely critical because of the urgent concerns about the pressure inside his little big head. We expect that his next surgery will install a life port into his chest, a device that makes it much easier to perform blood draws and administer medication, especially chemotherapy drugs. The life port provides a feed into his bloodstream before his heart and will make him much more comfortable because it will obviate the need for needle sticks. Ouch — we don’t like those at all.

Thanks again for all of the wonderful messages from everybody. We are grateful for the support and encouragement, especially as we face days, weeks and months of uncertainty.

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