Warning: I am including actual photos of the larynx (voice box) within this post. If those types of things make you queasy, stop reading now.
Buffalo Children's (WCHOB) called with Nolan's surgery time. We are to check in at 6:30am and the surgery will be at 8:30am. This means we will have to leave our house at 4:30am, unless we opt to stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Buffalo. This would be my preference, because it would let all of us sleep a little longer, and not have to drive through ice and snow in the pre-dawn hours.
Nolan is having two procedures (three, really, but one doesn't involve any cutting). First, a bronchoscopy will be performed again to verify the laryngomalacia and to verify no other anatomical defects are present. Then the ENT will proceed with a lingual tonsillectomy.
Wait a minute, you might ask, weren't Nolan's tonsils removed in April? As it turns out, we are all born with three distinct sets of tonsils: the pharyngeal tonsils (also known as the adenoids), the palatine tonsils (what we refer to as "The Tonsils") and the lingual tonsils.
The ENT will be "shaving down" Nolan's lingual tonsils to help improve his airway. This has a similar recovery time to traditional tonsils, but we probably won't notice much of a difference because of the other, main surgery he is having performed.
Nolan's laryngomalacia means that his airway is floppy and occludes the larynx when he tries to breathe. A normal larynx looks like this:
The epiglottis is barely visible, and the vocal cords and airway are plainly visible (the vocal cords are the "V" shaped cords in the picture above).
Nolan's airway looks more like this (laryngomalacia):
When he tries to breathe, the aryepiglottic folds collapse into his airway, creating an apnea. The general anatomic configuration of this area of his airway also creates a lot of noisy breathing. For Nolan, this mostly occurs at night and causes sleep-disordered-breathing. We can now hear stridor during the day, especially in certain positions (when he is looking down at something).
To fix the laryngomalacia, the ENT will use a CO2 laser and "trim up" the aryepiglottic folds, so that they cannot collapse into his airway anymore. The scar tissue formed by this procedure will also help strengthen the floppy nature of his airway.
Obviously, mucking around in an airway is a Very Serious Thing, and the little guy will remain in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) on a ventilator for a period of time, until the swelling comes down and we are sure his airway is stable. He should be extubated on Wednesday morning or Thursday (at the latest).
There are a few risks and potential side effects of the procedure (including temporary aspiration issues), but I'm not going to go into those, because they are not very common and not likely to affect our little guy. This surgery does cause quite a bit of worry and stress for us, though.
I probably will not update the blog until we are home from surgery and the little guy is happily sucking away on popsicles again. We appreciate all your prayers and support!