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Gabby's shunt placement

Posted May 19 2011 8:53am

Even the shunt — or tube — placed in Giffords’ head to drain excess spinal fluids from her brain will not ruin the image, Friedlander said.

That tube, which is permanent, is generally placed in the front of the head and is no more than a small bulge under the skin, usually hidden by hair. The tube drains the fluid into the abdomen.

"Externally ... once the swelling is gone, her head will be nice and round the way she was beforehand," Friedlander said.

From the start, doctors have marveled not only at Giffords survival, but also at her recovery.

Within weeks of arriving at TIRR Memorial Hospital in late January, Giffords’ family and staff reported she could speak a few words, then sing some songs and string together short sentences. By March, she was able to walk with assistance, according to her doctors, and her personality was shining through.

On Monday, according to her staff, she said "good stuff, good stuff" while watching her husband rocket into space.

Still, doctors caution that she has a long recovery ahead of her and have repeatedly talked about reaching a new "normal."

Wednesday’s operation is considered fairly routine, though there is a 1 percent chance of infection or bleeding, Thompson said.

Infection, normally resulting from the introduction of a foreign body, would not be apparent for a few weeks, but bleeding could occur in surgery when doctors lift the skin to reach the open area, Friedlander added.

Yet doctors say it wasn’t necessary to have Kelly on Earth to go ahead with the surgery.

Not only can closing the hole alleviate some of the headaches associated with brain injuries, it helps prevent any future injury, Thompson said.

The surgery itself is only about 90 minutes long. From start to finish, including recovery from anesthesia and pre-operating preparations, the procedure will take no more than three hours, the doctors said.

And once it’s over, the real countdown for Giffords’ release will begin, they added.

"That may actually be quite soon," Thompson said

I just found this article this morning. I was going through my support groups reading updates when I read a question about what kind of hydrocephalus Giffords has. So Apparently Senator Giffords was shunted at some point.

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