Mark and I met with Dr. Sacco, a pediatric neurosurgeon, on Wednesday.  We spoke for about an hour.  Here are a few of the big questions he answered for me:

What do we know about Embry based on Monday’s sonograms?

She has extra fluid in her brain, causing her ventricles to swell.  The swelling is at about 30 millimeters.  Anything above 10 is abnormal.  Her whole body is big, so we don’t know if her head is disproportionately big.

We don’t know if she’s going to need surgery.  If she does, there are two options.  The first, and way more common option, is using a shunt.  A shunt is a valve that takes the fluid out of the brain and releases it somewhere else in the body.  It would probably stay in her for the rest of her life.  The second is EVT, where they cut an opening in the brain for the fluid to release.

What’s the probability Embry will live a normal life with a shunt?

We aren’t sure Embry is going to need a shunt.  If she doesn’t, the odds of living a normal life are great.  If she does need a shunt, she’ll fall into one of three groups.  Of ALL the people requiring shunts, the groups are about evenly divided:
(1)    Totally normal life (mentally and physically)
(2)    Functions well but has developmental issues and needs help in school
(3)    Debilitated

How do we know which group Embry will be in?

Which group an individual falls into depends on several factors, including:
(1)    The amount of swelling (Embry’s is high at 30mm, but it’s not “severe”)
(2)    How long there’s been swelling (there was not swelling when Embry had her 22-week sonogram, which is a REALLY good thing)
(3)    How much damage has been caused to the brain when the shunt is placed (her 37-week sonogram indicates that, if there is any damage, it’s not significant)

Overall, these factors would give Embry a greater chance of being in the first or second group than in the third.

When will we have a better idea of what’s going to happen?

Immediately after birth, doctors will do an eye test.  If she looks good, that may be the end of the story.  More likely though, she’ll have an MRI soon after birth (1-4 days after birth).  The MRI will answer many questions.