A fatal road accident, severe head injuries and massive trauma, such was the ordeal of little Suhani (name changed) and her family over last 6 months. The 4-year-old had a miraculous survival after a fatal road accident in December 2017.
Recently, Customised Cranial Implant (CCI) that could be used to reconstruct the cranial cavities or deformities in such cases was launched in the country. What then seemed far-fetched, actually turned out to be a boon for Suhani. This CCI has given a new lease of life not only to this 4-year-old, who had a long-life glaring at her but also her parents, who had been deeply distressed ever since the fatal accident.
Due to severe head injury and swelling, Suhani was admitted in the paediatric ICU on ventilator support. She had already undergone 2 major cranial surgeries. Assessing the gravity of the situation, the neurosurgeon at Bharati Hospital, Pune, had to surgically remove two of the frontal bones and the skull bone at the back of the head to reduce the swelling.
Although the surgery was a success, the significant cavity on the sides and back of her skull left Suhani emotionally disturbed. As per Suhani’s mom, “She used to be a chirpy child who loved playing outdoors and making friends. But the accident and a disfigured head left her low on confidence. She became hesitant to even interact with her friends. She often touched her head as if wondering when this cavity would fill and she would also look like her friends and other kids. Seeing her fight battle these thoughts was extremely painful for us.”
Dr Jitendra Oswal, Professor of Paediatrics & Deputy Medical Director at the hospital, said, “With new technology, the implant can be customised as per the anatomical structure of the patient to fill the cranial bone cavity. Since it was the first-of-its-kind in India, we had initial apprehensions about conducting the procedure but after extensive research and consultation with surgeons from across the world, we decided to go ahead.”
Elaborating on the new life-changing technology, Dr Vishal Rokade states, “We selected polyethylene material as its biocompatible, porous and light weight. The pores in the CCI implant are interconnected and omni-directional, which helps in fibrovascular growth of the surrounding tissue. Also, the customization aspect gave us an advantage to trim and perfectly fit the implant as per the exact defect in the patient’s skull.”
The process of designing of customized implant started with the examination of CT scan images patient’s head by device company’s R&D team in the US. After thorough review and evaluation, an implant design was developed specific to the patient’s cranial defect. Based on the inputs provided by surgeons at Bharati Hospital, the design was approved, manufactured and finally imported from US in May 2018.
It was decided by the neurosurgeon that the cranial reconstruction surgery should be performed in phased manner for better assessment of outcomes. In mid-May, Dr Vishal and his team of doctors conducted the first phase of procedure and were successfully able to fix two CCI implants on the frontal bones of Suhani’s head. The perfect fit of the implant added to the surgical success.
Just days post the procedure, Suhani was back to her cheerful self and so were her parents and family members. She recovered well and was discharged from the hospital after 2 weeks. The CCI acted as an exemplary mode of treatment to promise a bright future for Suhani– something that was once unimaginable with lethal head injuries.
Although Suhani is yet to undergo the second phase of the surgery for reconstruction of the skull bone at the back of her head, but looking at their cheerful daughter, Suhani’s parents are relieved and hopeful that their daughter would have a chance to lead a normal life.