I had my Ommaya reservoir placement just before my small bowel resection procedure. Both of these surgeries occured on March 22, 2012 (2 days before my 42nd birthday). An Ommaya port is used to administer intrathecal chemotherapy. This process delivers chemo drugs directly into the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, to target cancer cells that have spread there.
Since the Ommaya was installed in the brain, the procedure was performed by a neuro-surgeon. Since I was under general anesthesia during the operation, I can only say what happened based upon what I was told.
Before the Ommaya reservoir placement can be performed, an MRI is done to map out the brain, and locate the fluid chambers. The MRI was done a few days before the procedure. This is necessary to insure proper and safe placement of the port. Incorrect placement can be detremental, especially if any brain matter is damaged.
During the operation, the surgeon makes a small, semi-circular incision, in an area just above one of the fluid chambers (based on the results of the MRI). A small skin and scalp are then pulled back, exposing the skull. From here, a hole is drilled through the skull, and into the fluid chamber, just wide enough for the Ommaya to fit in.
Once the port is placed, the Ommaya reservoir placement is almost complete. The scalp and skin are replaced, and the would is secured with heavy stitching. For extra security, the wound is also stapled. Finally, a dressing is placed on top of the area, for extra protection.
After the operation, I was back in the SICU (Surgical Intensive Care Unit), and would soon go back to the O.R. for a small bowel resection. As far at the “Ommaya reservoir placement” goes, that part was done. I would not actually start intrathecal chemo until I was released from the hospital. That will be the subject of another post.
So, that was pretty much it for the actual procedure. Having the port installed would allow my oncologist to administer drugs into the brain and spinal fluid without risking spinal damage, as is common with spine injected chemo.
I would have the Ommaya port in my head for 2 years, until March 25, 2014. I’ll talk about the Ommaya removal in more detail in a future post. I will say that, out of all the procedures and surgeries I would endure, the Ommaya reservoir placement was one of the easiest surgeries to recover from.