We learned lots of important things about the surgery. The most important part? Madeleine will be having surgery using a “robot”. You can read more about pediatric robotics here. That is Dr. Meehan’s website. There are several advantages to using robotics for her surgery. First, it allows the doctor to see everything magnified at 10 times the size it actually is. The robot has 2 lenses in the camera, so this allows the doctor to see everything in 3D, rather than traditional 2D that you get when they use a scope. This gives them depth perception that is a huge advantage in the operating room. Because this isn’t a huge, invasive surgery, her recovery time will be much faster, with smaller incisions. That is great! I was really worried about how large the incision would be and how long I’d have to try to keep her immobile. And finally, the robotic “arms” allow for the surgeons to be more precise because the arms can twist and bend, much like a wrist.
Previous methods of surgery on Madeleine’s type of tumor include the “old school” method, where they also go in through the ribs, as they will this time, however they have to separate the ribs and muscles and try to see in there as best they can. While they *can* do it, it’s much better to have the camera internally so they can better see what’s going on. The second type of surgery is where they also do small incisions like they will for her robotic surgery, however the scope camera only allows the surgeons to see in 2D. A disadvantage. Also, the tools they used were described today as being like chop sticks, in that they are much less flexible to move freely.
So, on Monday Dr. Healey will be the main surgeon, but Dr. Meehan will be performing the robotic portion of the surgery. Dr. Healey said that they are very lucky to have Dr. Meehan on staff there, and that he wouldn’t even attempt the robotic surgery if he wasn’t there.
The tumor is only strongly attached to her spinal bones, so they will detach the tumor there and then it should “peel away, much like an orange gets peeled”. This means that the tumor that is still in between her vertebrae should peel out. Dr. Meehan said that sometimes it doesn’t, but those little bits of tumor shouldn’t be an issue for her growing. Then they will peel the tumor away from her ribs and lung. And finally, they will remove the tumor all at once from her little body and my baby will be rid of it!
Once the tumor is removed, they will inflate the lung entirely to ensure that there are no holes in the lung from the surgery. They said the risk of this was low, but they want to test it. Most likely, any small holes or tears as a result of the surgery will self-heal nearly immediately, so that is good.
Of course, if there are any complications, unexpected bleeding, etc – they will then do the large incision in her side and do the invasive procedure to complete the surgery. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this is not necessary.
The surgery is estimated to take 3-4 hours and time in the hospital should be about 1-3 days after surgery, if all goes as planned. We ask that during our hospital stay that we have no visitors, please. We want to keep risk of infection as low as possible. I’m sure you all understand.
Please keep her in your thoughts as surgery looms closer. She is such an active little girl that I am nervous about her trying to do too much too soon. We will be back at the hospital tomorrow for her blood work and type and cross so that they’ll have blood on hand at the hospital, should they need it on Monday.