Monday, July 6, 2009

Good Heart

At 22 weeks gestation, a Level II ultrasound indicated that fluid had accumulated around Clara's heart. The sonographer excused herself to find the perinatologist, who quickly confirmed the sonographer's concern. Shortly thereafter we were seated in the office of the perinatologist digesting the many possible causes of the pericardial effusion - chromosomal abnormalities, heart defects, a virus, cancer, unknown. The perinatologist then called Children's Hospital and expressed the urgent need for a fetal echocardiogram - we were told that they could see us as soon as we could get to the hospital.

We started that day with plans for an uneventful appointment followed by a lunch date at our favorite Greek restaurant. The level II ultrasound was scheduled as a precaution based on some medications that Ellen was taking. The same procedure had been performed during Ellen's pregnancy with Owen; therefore our level of concern going into the appointment was very low. Little did we know that we would find ourselves on the way to Children's Hospital full of concern for our unborn daughter.

We visited Children's Hospital several more times during the remainder of the pregnancy, becoming increasingly optimistic with each visit as the effusion reduced to two small pockets of fluid. Clara's growth and development continued to progress on track and no indicators of other potential problems were noted. Therefore, we began to believe that the cause of the effusion would fall into the unknown category.

Shortly after Clara was born we received the diagnosis of Down syndrome and our answer to what likely caused the effusion in utero. At one week old, we visited Children's hospital yet again for another echocardiogram, which indicated that the effusion had completely resolved and that no significant heart defects were present. The cardiologist noted that the PFO had not completely closed; therefore he recommended a follow-up appointment at three months old. Based on the results of an EKG and a physical examination at the three month appointment, the cardiologist indicated his belief that the PFO had closed; however, he recommended follow-up at one year as a precaution.

I am happy to report that Clara's one year appointment on June 26, 2009 resulted in a clean bill of heart health from the cardiologist. He indicated that everything looked and sounded normal and that Clara never had to come back to see him. While Dr. Wheller provided excellent care and advice during our unexpected journey, we feel blessed that Clara has been released from his care at such a young age without a single surgical procedure (knock on wood).

1 comment:

ABandCsMom said...

Oh she looks like she is having a blast swinging. That playground looks pretty fun too.