Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What is Persistent Fetal Circulation?

You may be asking, what is this condition? I did. Here is a good explanation by a member of Children's Hospital and Health System, the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin from their "Disorders, Diseases and Organ Topics" -Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension page. The quotes are from this website.

"Persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) is also known as persistent fetal
circulation. In this condition, a newborn baby's circulation changes back
to the circulation of a fetus, where much of the blood flow bypasses the lungs."

Later, Dr. S. and Dr. B., both amazing pediatricians, said Wyatt came out "floppy" with no muscle tension like "normal" babies do. Something had happened that deprived Wyatt of oxygen.

So why is PPHN such a concern?

"When blood is shunted away from the baby's lungs, it is difficult for the lungs
to do the work of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide. Even breathing air with
100 percent oxygen, babies with PPHN have low blood oxygen levels. This can be
serious, as all of the body's organs are dependent on oxygen-rich blood being
pumped to them and may become damaged from lack of oxygen."

This was what the doctors feared. Brain damage. Lung damage. Heart damage. And the list went on. Your head spins with the tidal wave of horrific possibilities.

What symptoms did they see to diagnos Wyatt with PPHN?

"Baby appears ill at delivery or in the first hours after birth. Cyanosis (blue
coloring). Rapid breathing. Rapid heart rate. Low blood oxygen levels while
receiving 100 percent oxygen. "

He had them all. Plus the doctors noticed Wyatt had an abnormally large heart that was floppy. So what did the doctors do to try to stabalize him?

Supplemental oxygen (giving 100 percent oxygen by a mask or plastic hood).
Placing an endotracheal tube into the baby's windpipe (ET tube). Mechanical
breathing machine (to do the work of breathing for the baby). Medications (to
completely relax the baby's muscles and reflexes so that he or she will better
respond to the mechanical ventilator). Inhalation of nitric oxide (to help
dilate the blood vessels in the lungs).

Treatment of PPHN is aimed at increasing the oxygen to the rest of the body
systems. Long-term health problems may be related to damage from lowered oxygen in the body.

Frightening. Absolutely frightening. What do you do as a parent? Pray and wait.

1 comment:

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