Room to Grow
Surgery Gives Baby with Craniosynostosis Space For a Growing Brain
Francesca Belmonte was three months old when someone commented to her mother that the shape of her head seemed a little unusual. Jessica Belmonte took her baby to a pediatrician, and they discovered, after a CT scan, that Francesca's skull had fused together prematurely. Her brain wouldn't have room to grow. Craniosynostosis happens to about one baby in every 2,000 live births, and can cause headaches and visual disturbances if it's not addressed.
Russell Reid, MD, PhD, associate professor of plastic surgery, sees this problem a lot. "We intervene early in these cases," he said. With a team that includes a neurosurgeon, a plastic surgeon, a pediatric anesthesiologist and excellent nursing, Francesca's physicians lifted the bones off her skull, cut the bones, and reshaped her head. The surgery takes about 4 hours, and will allow her brain and head to grow safely. "The calvarial vault reconstruction affects a positive change in each kid's life," Reid said. About 25 kids every year undergo this surgery at the University of Chicago.
Jessica Belmonte made the video of her daughter's journey through pre-op, surgery, and recovery. "We want other families to know what they should expect when they go for surgery," Belmonte said. "We will never forget the way that David Frim and Russell Reid healed our daughter and eased our minds as we went through this very emotional process."