Today, I did an endoscopic-assisted reconstruction for craniosynostosis. This is one of several techniques I perform for children with craniosynostosis (premature closure of the “joints” aka sutures in the skull that can restrict the child’s growth. This often results in abnormal head shape, and can also affect brain development in some cases.
I met the parents along with my cute, little, darling 2-month-old patient. Parents were anxious as can be expected. Tears flowed. I hug them and offer some tissue and comfort, and more hugs. They have their purple shirts on, the official color of Cleft-Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention. We take some quick photos before the surgery. The team of solidarity with my preop nursing staff is awesome. More tears flowed, I comfort the family and reassure them that we’ve done many of these cases with excellent outcomes and will be holding their son in a few more hours. In a few hours, they will be over this hump. My team and I just need to get them through the next rough hours of waiting.
Along with my fantastic neurosurgeon, we wheel the baby into the operating room. The top-notch anesthesia team gets the IV fluids going. We also place an A-line which helps to monitor the patient’s vitals and continuous blood pressure throughout the case. We shave a small strip of hair and save for the family! Baby’s first hair cut!
I call mom to tell her we have been in the operating room for an hour. The placement of IV’s went well, and we are about to scrub in for the surgery. I pass her on to the scrub and nursing staff in the room as they will be updating the family from hereon, as requested by the parents. I am in game mode now – my focus on the baby and nothing else matter, except flawless thoughtful execution and design of the operation and getting the baby safely out of surgery onto a wonderful and uneventful recovery.
We do a “time-out.” This is a standard operating procedure designed to identify the patient’s name, date of birth, medical record number, reason why we are there, the planned surgery we are about to perform, any allergies, etc. The goal is the ultimate safety of the patient. After prep and scrub, the first cut is made with a knife (called a “scalpel”). Next, a second cut is made. Using an endoscope, the suture is identified. Careful dissection is done around the brain, the bone work around the skull bones is executed. The surgery went smoothly and flawlessly. The abnormal bone in the baby’s skull is removed, and the brain and rest of the skull look great. We finish up the surgery, and my little one is doing great! Time to go talk to the family. Everyone is relieved grateful, and lots of smiles and cheer all around. I love what I do, love my patients, love the families! The creativity in restoring normal form and function, and making a difference in the lives of children is a rewarding and humbling experience.
I am grateful to the patients, parents, and families who trust me to have this privilege to play a part in their lives. I am very humbled and deeply gratified.
When you love what you do, and care about those in your charge, anything is possible. Thanks for letting me take another journey with your little one. Here’s to making life better, one child at a time.
Thanks for reading!