Eli likes arts and crafts, coloring and dinosaurs. He is also a fan of football and baseball and hopes to join a team and wear a sports helmet when he's a little older. Looking at this happy, healthy boy, you would never guess that he wore a therapeutic helmet after craniofacial surgery when he was just a baby.
Just a few days after he was born, Eli's mom Miriam found out that her baby boy would need surgery on his skull. The news was a surprise as none of her prenatal ultrasounds had revealed an issue.
The physicians at the hospital where Eli was born referred the family to Alex Kane, M.D., Chief of Plastic and Craniofacial Surgery at Children's Health℠ and Professor at UT Southwestern. He diagnosed Eli with sagittal synostosis, a condition that causes the skull to fuse prematurely. Without surgical intervention and helmet therapy, Eli would have a long and narrow head shape.
"I knew his head shape was different, and felt nervous and scared," Miriam says. "I had never heard of the condition."
From heartbreak to healing after craniofacial surgery
This was Miriam's second baby and though she is a seasoned mom, nothing prepared her for the devastating news that her baby would need surgery. Fortunately, Dr. Kane performs a minimally invasive procedure called an extended strip craniectomy. He explained to the couple that healing time is minimal and the ideal time to intervene is in the first four months.
"I was heartbroken at the thought of surgery, but friends reassured me that doctors like Dr. Kane perform this type of surgery all the time," Miriam says. "He told me he would treat Eli like he was his own."
After surgery, Eli was fitted with a special helmet and wore it at all times, except during bath time.
Miriam offers advice for parents facing similar situations: "I know you are scared; I was scared," she says through tears. "Everyone will tell you it's going to be ok. It's true. Now the helmet is gone and Eli is ok. He can wear hats and caps, football helmets and whatever he wants!"
To learn more about minimally invasive options for craniofacial surgery, contact the Fogelson Plastic Surgery and Craniofacial Center at Children's Health. Most families can expect to take their child home the day after the minimally invasive surgery, with follow-up visits and helmet therapy usually until the child is 18 months old. The advantages of extended strip craniectomy include shorter hospital stays and less scarring.
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