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Jessica's Foot Somewhat Improved, Tests Show

October 20, 1987|Associated Press

MIDLAND, Tex. — Doctors examined, cleaned and tested Jessica McClure's right foot in exploratory surgery Monday, and said it has recuperated somewhat from the stress of 2 1/2 days in a cramped well.

"I don't think we're totally out of the woods. I think we feel a little better today," orthopedic surgeon Charles Younger said at a news conference at Midland Memorial Hospital.

The 18-month-old girl, who was pulled out of the well Friday, after 58 1/2 hours stuck 22 feet below the surface, was in serious but stable condition after Monday's procedure, officials said.

Jessica's right foot was wedged against the wall of the well, and reduced blood circulation caused severe injury. She also has a silver-dollar-size pressure wound, similar to a bedsore, on her forehead.

Asked to estimate chances that the toddler's foot might have to be amputated, Younger said: "I would hate to put a percentage on it, but I think we're all on the optimistic side."

In Monday's procedure, doctors cleaned and inspected Jessica's foot, then used a dye and a laser to trace blood circulation in it.

"There are spotty areas where the dye made it, and areas where the dye didn't make it," Younger said, but he added that the doctors probably could have seen the dye diffuse farther into the foot if they had waited longer.

He said they did not spend a lot of time watching the dye circulate because they wanted to take the child off general anesthesia as fast as possible.

The doctors also used a device called a Doppler laser, which can detect movement of blood cells through capillaries, the smallest vessels. Younger said that blood appears to be flowing throughout the foot.

Vascular surgeon Shelton Viney called it a "skin problem." He said: "We're worried about microscopic blood flow to the skin. I'm just greatly pleased we got some arterial flow into the foot."

The doctors said that Jessica's right big toe and areas on the instep and outside edge of the foot are the most heavily damaged. If some capillaries are destroyed, they said, the baby can compensate by growing new ones.

They said they plan to test the blood flow with the Doppler laser again on Wednesday.

Plastic surgeon Terry Tubb said he had been ready to implant two silicone "bubbles" in the girl's forehead to stretch the skin and stitch it over the area of dead skin, but he decided to wait because her forehead was still bruised and swollen.

"I'm going to slow down, take my time, let Mother Nature take its course," Tubb said. "I want the best condition possible."

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