Camille Gunderson | CaringBridge

Camille Gunderson Caring for Camille

First post: Dec 5, 2017 Latest post: Jan 2, 2018
Life has a way of taking some interesting curves here and there!!

Camille was born with a slight physical abnormality called a Pectus Excavatum (https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/services/pediatric-general-surgery/programs-and-services/pectus-excavatum). This is basically a small divot in the sternum caused by a malformation of the cartilage. Hannah was born with the same malformation, but hers was repaired through the open heart procedure. Greg also has a very mild Pectus Excavatum that has never required any medical attention.

Although Cami has raised concerns of her “dent” throughout the years, we have never been overly concerned. As a very young child, she was seen by a cardiologist to ensure her heart was not impacted. Again in 2013, she was seen by a pediatric surgeon who determined that the dent was not severe enough to consider repairs. However, Camille began having symptoms throughout the last year; she has experienced dizzy spells, shortness of breath with exercise and cold/numb fingers leading to a trip to the doctor.

On Friday, November 17, we saw the same pediatric surgeon we had seen four years earlier. Dr. Jones expressed concerns considering Cami’s symptoms. She and her team quickly arranged for chest x-rays, CT scan, echocardiogram, pulmonary function tests and blood work. They quickly ruled out new medical problems and focused on the Pectus Excavatum.

To determine the severity of a sternum abnormality, physicians use the Haller Index (http://pectusexcavatuminfo.com/haller-index/). In short, a normal chest would have an index score of 2.5, Mild deformity 2.5-3.0, Moderate deformity 3.0-3.5 and Severe deformity >3.5. Camille’s Haller Index measurement is 4.6...fairly concerning. Dr. Jones showed Cami pictures of her chest which clearly showed how her sternum is pressing against her heart. Obviously, this needs to be repaired!!

Although a 4.6 is quite severe and concerning, several people decide to live with the abnormality and can function with the limitations. However, with Cami’s activity level and involvement in various physically demanding activities, she has decided to proceed with surgery. We were able to secure a surgery date right here in Sioux Falls.

The surgical repair for Pectus Excavatum is called a Nuss Procedure (https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1970203-technique). Basically the team of doctors will insert a small camera into Cami’s chest wall. From there, they will use a specially crafted bar to raise the pectus to the proper position. This bar is secured with small metal plates screwed to the ribs. This bar remains in place for approximately 2-4 years depending on physical recovery.

Camille goes in for surgery on December 13, 2017 at 7:30a. She will remain in the hospital for 3-5 days, home for approximately one month and on physical restrictions for 3-6 months. We are confident that this is the right decision, but concerned for the anticipated pain and prolonged limitations. Prayers are certainly appreciated!! Feel free to ask questions…we are an open book!

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