YOUR HEALTH: Toddler’s triumph: Transforming Lucas’ skull

New advancements in minimally invasive surgery are giving some of these babies hope of a completely normal life.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 8:58 AM CST
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ST. LOUIS. Missouri - (Ivanhoe Newswire) - One in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect each year. It impacts how the body looks, works, or both. Many can be corrected, yet some create lifelong challenges. New advancements in minimally invasive surgery are giving some of these babies hope of a completely normal life, correcting their birth defects before they celebrate their first birthday.

If it has motors, wheels, or it’s something they’re not supposed to touch, like a TV camera, you can bet twins Dylan and Lucas Parato will like it.

“I always say, ‘If it’s not dangerous, they’re not interested,” said Angelo Parato, Lucas’ dad.

Just two years ago, parents Angelo and Ashley didn’t know what the future held for their newborn Lucas.

“Compared to his brother when he was born, I could tell it was a little bit flatter,” explained Ashley Parato.

Lucas was born with Craniosynostosis. The bones of his skull fused together too early.

“And if the skull’s not growing, then it has an impact on the brain,” said Dr. Kamlesh Patel, a plastic surgeon at Washington University at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Lucas had a rare form of it.

“These two sutures in the back of the head were closed, as well as this suture, here, along the top of the head, it’s called a Mercedes-Benz type Craniosynostosis,” said Dr. Patel.

Traditionally, surgery to correct the problem involved an incision from ear to ear, inserting a metal device into the skull that needed to be turned daily for a month, followed by another surgery to remove it. But now, doctors at Washington University are using a less invasive approach.

“The idea is like, just relieve that pressure, and just let the brain fix itself,” explained Dr. Patel.

Dr. Patel used endoscopic repair to separate the skull bones.

“It’s smaller incisions, more targeted. You know, we’re talking a few, like, two-to-three-centimeter incisions to gain access,” said Dr. Patel.

Lucas went home the next day. However, he did have to wear this helmet for nine months.

“The brain does double in the first six months of life and still continues to grow pretty fast after that. The idea of the helmet is, now it’s, like, guided, like, ‘okay, i want you to grow out in this direction that you were restricted before,” explained Dr. Patel.

Within weeks, Lucas’ parents noticed a difference. And now, the only helmet Lucas will need is when he trades in his bumper car for a race car.

Dr. Patel emphasizes that this procedure should be done within the first few months of life, as it becomes more challenging to keep the helmet on toddlers as they grow. Additionally, parents can expect their child’s head shape to continue to improve even after they stop wearing the helmet.

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