On Wednesday June 12th, when Tucker was just over a day old, he underwent two heart procedures. Both procedures were catheter based through his right thigh. The first procedure was a balloon valvuloplasty. He had a narrowed pulmonary valve so they utilized the ballooning procedure to open up or enlarge the valve to a more desired position. The goal of the procedure was to improve valve function and blood flow to his lungs.
For the second procedure they attempted to place a stint in his ductus. The ductus is a blood vessel that connects the pulmonary artery to the aorta. It develops in the fetus to allow the majority of the blood to travel from the right ventricle (or in Tucker’s case his common ventricle) to bypass the fetus’s fluid-filled non-functioning lungs. Within a few days after birth the ductus begins closing, however due to the poor blood flow to his lungs Tucker was immediately given medicine to keep his ductus open. Since the medicine is just a temporary solution the doctors tried to place a stint in his ductus to permanently keep it open. I guess it was quite complicated for the doctors to even get near the ductus due to Tucker’s unique anatomy and when they did get to it they found that the ductus was to small and twisty. Therefore they were unfortunately unable to place the stint.
The team of doctors chose these two procedures as a means of providing Tucker with further blood flow to his lungs and as a way to delay open heart surgery. Tucker requires open heart surgery at around 4 months of age and then again at approximately 4 years of age. The doctors felt that doing the two catheter procedures was a less invasive option of providing Tucker with further blood flow. The doctors not only try to do what’s needed for the patient but also try and look ahead at the big picture. Avoiding open heart surgery now will make the later two surgeries safer and easier to accomplish.