Three New York infants underwent surgery to treat their skulls whose soft tissue fused prematurely. They suffered from craniosynostosis, a condition where the baby’s skull lacks soft spots for developing correctly as the baby ages.
Only 1 in 2,100 children are born with the condition, although this may be the first time in the record that triplets are diagnosed with it, reducing odds to 1 in “a couple hundred trillion.”
Mike Howard, the babies’ father, stated that it’s more likely to be struck by lightning or win the lottery than to suffer from craniosynostosis.
One case in a couple hundred billion
Kaden, Jackson, and Hunter were operated upon at Stony Brook University Hospital in January. They are now wearing helmets as they recover.
According to Stony Brook doctors, the babies’ soft cranial tissue fused while they remained inside the uterus. This results in the brain growing at a normal rate while the skull is unable to grow in unison. The condition is mostly treated with surgery to correct the shape of the head, and early diagnosis frequently offers parents enough time to act accordingly.
As soon as craniosynostosis is diagnosed, the doctor is expected to create a virtual surgery plan with 3-D CT scans of the baby’s skull. The scans will result in a customized procedure to operate in the most efficient and safe way possible to avoid any irreparable damage.
In a healthy baby, the skull’s cranial sutures remain flexible until the bones fuse together at age 2. The exact cause of craniosynostosis is not known, although researchers believe that it is a mix of genetic syndromes, such as Crouzon syndrome, and environmental elements.
The babies’ parents argue that the triplets do not seem to mind their helmets and that they are almost sure that the kids did not suffer too much pain from the surgery or during the recovery. Mike was worried about any of the three suffering fro complications. Thankfully, the procedures went smoothly and without inconveniences, lasting no more than 3 hours each.
Dr. David Chesler and his team had to remove part of the skull to ease the pressure exerted on the brain. The whole procedure was done endoscopically, which simplified the surgery. Doctors had to open their way on the spot where the cranial sutures became fused with the skull.
The condition is rarely lethal, although the malformation is highly noticeable, which puts at risk the baby’s self-esteem in the future. Craniosynostosis may also cause blindness, seizures, and cognitive impairment.
Thankfully, the triplets did not have to undergo open surgery, which is reserved for babies older than six months. In this case, the doctor cuts the scalp and cranial bones and proceeds to reshape the skull as necessary. The skull is then held in place with plates and absorbable screws. The patient is then required to stay at the hospital for little less than a week, and most of the times the patient needs blood transfusions. The surgery, whether open or endoscopic, produces only slightly noticeable cosmetic marks, other than the helmet that’s to be worn during therapy.