Doctor cuts, reshapes infant's skull

June 18, 2013 10:07:48 AM PDT
Imagine watching your newborn's head grow more and more lopsided, making one of his ears drop lower than the other.

Some parents from Oklahoma faced a scary choice when this happened to them. Let it go on growing lopsided, or let surgeons here in Houston cut their baby's skull from ear to ear to fix the problem.

You have to forgive six-month-old Ryan. He's had a tough 10 days. You'd never know that his little skull was cut in half and rebuilt like a puzzle.

"I got terrified as soon as he said neurosurgeon. Ryan was three months old at the time, and to think of anyone doing anything to him, especially his head, was terrifying," his mother, Leah Burke, said.

Ryan's skull was growing lopsided because an opening in the skull that allows the brain to grow had closed too soon.

"The brain grows wherever there's an opening and will push the other bones that had not been fused so the head looks more lopsided," said Dr. David Sandberg, a UTHealth Pediatric neurosurgeon at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital."

"You could see in his face a little bit that it was starting to pull to one side," Burke said.

After the surgery, you could see the scar where Dr. Sandberg cut Ryan's skull from ear to ear and made the bones symmetrical.

"I expect this baby to have a normal life. He'll have a scar on his head, which will be covered by hair," Dr. Sandberg said.

Doctors don't know why this happens. But the family, who live in Oklahoma City, are glad they had the surgery in Houston.

"We were willing to go anywhere to get the best for him," Burke said.

Ryan will have to wear a helmet for awhile. But for they say the hard part is over.

Ryan's condition is very rare. Neurosurgeons here see a child like him only once every 5 to 10 years.

Find Christi on Facebook at ABC13-Christi Myers or on Twitter at @ChristiMyers13


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