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Waiting at Duke

I'm spending this morning in the surgical waiting room at Duke University Medical Center. My son Duncan is having surgery on his hand today -- in fact, as I write this, the operation should be well underway.

Duncan has been suffering from pain in his right wrist and hand for the last few months now. An x-ray at the orthopaedist was inconclusive, which led to a bone scan. That showed a mass, but of unknown type. His orthopaedist referred him to the specialists here at Duke, who did an MRI. That, too, showed a mass of unknown type, so at that the point, the only option was surgery.

What the surgeon is telling us is that there are two basic possibilities:

  • Duncan has an osteoid osteoma, which is basically a benign bone growth. If this is the case, they'll remove it, close him up, and he'll be back home by tomorrow at the latest.
  • He has an infection in his hand. If this is the case, they'll remove all of it that they can find, and then he'll be in the hospital as long as five days while undergoing intensive antibiotic treatment. After he's discharged, he'll be equipped with a shunt for a few weeks to deliver antibiotics directly into his bloodstream.
The surgeon was hopeful that Duncan will have the osteoid osteoma, not the infection -- he says he only sees half a dozen such infections each year. We're hopeful, too. We should know in about an hour.

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