And the answer is...TO SHUNT!
Austin took his first trip into the city yesterday to meet with a neuro-surgeon for a second opinion regarding if he should have a shunt or not. This is the same surgeon who we met with when I was 20 weeks pregnant, and we really liked him. He is also one of the top surgeons in NYC and has a really good demeanor. Our appointment was at 3pm and we weren't seen until close to 5pm. Austin was a trooper the whole time and just hung out in the waiting room.
The surgeon did a quick exam of Austin and looked at his MRI images from when he was born. The surgeon said that he thought Austin looked great, his head looked great and he didn't see any cause for immediate concern. He also said that had he not seen Austin's MRI scans, he probably wouldn't have even known that Austin had hydrocephalus. He indicated, however, that Austin will need to have some form of surgical treatment for the fluid, as it is significant He went over the two options....a shunt....or an EVT (which is an operation where a hole is basically drilled into the 3rd ventricle to allow for the fluid to drain out and back into the head where it should be.) Obviously the EVT is less invasive and means that Austin would not have to have a foreign object (shunt) in his body. However, not many surgeons do the EVT on a baby this young because the success rate is only about 40% as baby's heads are constantly shifting and the hole usually closes up. The surgeon went on to say that it was our decision ultimately which option we choose, but that if we did choose the EVT, we would have to keep in mind that we may be back and forth to the hospital with a failure, which he often saw with babies this young. And while he wouldn't make the decision for us, he did end up saying in so many words to get the shunt put in by the surgeon that we have it already scheduled with. He said that there was no need to keep coming back and forth to the city and talked highly of our current surgeon.
On the ride home, Kevin and I were on the same page. We are going to go forward with the shunt for Austin. We want the fluid to be gone and with the EVT, the fluid would just be regulated. And the shunt failure rate on a newborn is a lot lower, 10-12%. Yeah, its not ideal for Austin to have the shunt the rest of his life, but we had already prepared ourselves for this. And now we can move forward knowing that we made the best decision for him. We will just continue to pray that his surgery goes smoothly and that he does not have any type of shunt failure.
So, Austin's surgery is scheduled for May 16th (got pushed up a day from the 17th). He will be in the hospital for two days and then we can begin our "fluid free" life with him.
And so I shall leave you with this shot...which just puts a huge smile on my face when I see it...