Sunday, November 6, 2011

Great question....."What kinds of tests will they be doing?"

   We made it safely to St Louis, checked in and had dinner. It's already been a long day and I know I won't be able to sleep tonight.  My sister-in-law, Jessica, asked me a great question today...."What kind of tests will they be doing?"  So I thought I would take the opportunity to answer that here for everyone. 

    We arrive at the transplant office tomorrow and receive our schedule for the week, and it sounds jammed packed! They will be doing the following tests:
  • Laboratory test (This is just a blood draw that will look at liver and kidney functions as well as blood counts and vitamin and electrolyte levels)
  • Urine analysis (This will look at his urine and screen for drugs, as they don't want to transplant someone with a substance problem, but this will also check kidney function as well as screen for infection)
  • Chest X-ray (To look at his lung and heart and to see if he has an active pneumonia, as well as give them a base line to look for changes in the future)
  • Electrocardiogram or EKG (This is another simple test, they will hook up a bunch of stickers to William's chest to look at the electrical activity of the heart. This will serve as a base line and also screen for any unknown problems/arrhythmias) 
  • Echo-cardiogram (This is a sonogram of the heart and the vessels leading into and out of the heart. They can also look at the valves and how they are functioning as well as a general idea of the flow throughout the heart.)
  • Radionuclide heart imaging (This one I'm not too sure about, but I know they inject a radioactive substance so that they can see with x-ray how it moves through the vessels in the heart. It will help make sure that he does not have any build-up or blockages in the vessels supplying the heart with oxygen. they do this to make sure he is healthy enough for surgery.)
  • Lung scan (This is another test that they will use radioactive material to view how air moves through the lungs and also to see how blood moves through the lungs. They will also compare where the blood is vs where the air is to make sure there are any problems like a clot in the lungs. It will also give us a better picture of what shape his lung are in.)
  • Pulmonary function studies or PFT's (These are a series of tests that will look at he flow and volumes in and out of the lungs. They will also do a test to see how well the lungs move oxygen into the blood stream. It's a lot of huffing and puffing but these are tests that William has had to do his whole life. So nothing too stressful here either)
  • Blood gas analysis or ABG (This is another blood draw only instead of being taken from the vein it will be drawn from an artery which makes it a little more painful than a regular blood draw. This will see how much oxygen he has going to all his organs and also how much CO2 is in his blood. It will also look at the pH balance to make sure the kidneys are able to keep up with his failing lungs. I get to do this test all the time at work.)
  • Exercise tolerance assessment (This is just like it sounds they will see what he is able to do and how his oxygen and heart rate respond to increased activity. They will also be teaching him tricks to maximize what he has left of his lungs and to train his heart to have a greater endurance.)
  • Cardiac catheterization (This is a test that carries a little bit of risk because it's a little more invasive than the rest. During this test they will feed a wire from his groin up into his heart and use another radioactive material to check all the vessels of the heart.....again! They just want to make sure that they won't have problems with his heart during transplant. The worst part of this test is that he will have to lay very still for a few hours after the procedure to make sure that the area in the groin doesn't bleed.)
  • Dobutamine stress test (During this test they will give William a medicine, dobutamine, that will make his heart rate increase and the heart muscle pump harder mimicking heavy exercise. This is a test that the liver team wanted. It is again to make sure that he will not have problems during surgery and to make sure there is no underlying problems with the heart.)
  • Psychological evaluation (This will assess William's understanding of the risks and rewards of the transplant and to make sure he will be able to manage the physical and emotional stress of the transplant process. They will also be looking at our finances to make sure this is not an extra stress for him.)

 These are all the tests I know about so far, and only one of them is for the liver team so I'm sure they will have more.  I will find out more tomorrow and I will ask lots of questions... .HAHA I'm so good at that!!  I will do my best to keep everyone updated via facebook and this blog.  Now it's time for this tired girl and boy to unwind and prepare for our busy day. Love you all!

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