⚠ COVID-19 INFORMATION: Vaccine Information, Other Resources 

Montgomery’s Head Shape Corrected with Minimally Invasive Procedure

No parent wants to hear that their baby needs surgery, especially when the child is only 7 weeks old.

But in the case of Montgomery, his parents Jenn and Brad knew a procedure for their newborn would give him the best chance of correcting his misshapen head, allowing his brain to grow and develop normally.

Montgomery, Monte for short, was born with craniosynostosis, a congenital condition in which a suture or joint between the calvarial bones in a child’s skull closes too early, which doesn’t allow for proper growth of the skull. In Monte’s case, he was diagnosed with sagittal craniosynostosis, which is the most common type of craniosynostosis. The sagittal suture runs from the front to the back of the head, and so early fusion makes the head grow long and narrow.

Plastic and reconstructive surgery and neurosurgery collaborate

Experts in plastic and reconstructive surgery and neurosurgery at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago offer a minimally invasive procedure, an endoscopic strip craniectomy, for some families whose babies are born with this type of condition.

The minimally invasive procedure is an alternative to a more traditional open calvarial remodeling surgery to reshape the bones of the skull and can be successfully used for infants up to five months of age, said Noopur Gangopadhyay, MD, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who specializes in craniofacial surgery and microsurgery. This endoscopic strip craniectomy often means a shorter stay in the hospital for families, smaller incisions, less blood loss, and a shorter operative time than the traditional open surgery.

Because Monte’s condition was discovered so early, thanks in part to an attentive pediatrician who referred the family to Lurie Children’s, the baby was a candidate for the minimally invasive operation.

“While the diagnosis was initially devastating and overwhelming, it was incredible to know Lurie Children’s surgeons could do the endoscopic procedure so soon,” said Jenn, Monte’s mom.

Dr. Gangopadhyay and Arthur DiPatri, MD, a renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, collaborated for the 90-minute-hour procedure. Together, they made small cuts on the baby’s scalp to separate the skin and tissue over the bone. Dr. DiPatri ensured the brain was protected when he made holes in the skull to separate bone from the dural covering of the brain. Together the surgeons removed the fused sagittal suture on the top of the head. This leaves the baby with a gap in the bone.

As the baby grows, the dural covering of the brain will induce new bone growth. The gap in the bone will fill in over time, creating a normal head shape and room for the brain to grow adequately.

Incisions are closed with absorbable stitches. Often, babies who get this surgery stay only one night in the hospital. That was the case for Monte, who was back to his normal routine the next day.

“Drs. Gangopadhyay and DiPatri had extraordinary bedside manner,” Jenn said. “They were helpful at every step of the way, answering all our questions. Both were extremely comforting to me and to Montgomery.”

Monte Before Surgery

Monte After Surgery

‘Couldn’t have asked for a better situation’

Babies who undergo an endoscopic strip craniectomy require several months of postoperative helmet therapy to ensure a normalized head shape. Infants are scanned for a custom helmet a few days before the surgery.  About a week after his procedure, Monte was fitted with this molding helmet by the Lurie Children’s Orthotics team.

Monte wore the helmet at all times, except for when it was removed for daily cleanings. Lurie Children’s orthotist Sarah Sawers, CO, LO, adjusted the helmet at appointments about every two weeks as the baby’s head grew. He was able to stop wearing the helmet after about eight months.

“It was a lot of work, and it got very tiring to work around it and keep it clean, but we knew it would be worth the effort,” Jenn said.

Now one-and-a-half, Monte is meeting milestones on time and a ball of energy who loves to color and chase the family’s dog, Smitty.

“He looks wonderful,” Jenn said. “He’s really, truly a gift. We were very scared at first but wouldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”


Sign up for our Newsletter

Get health tips from our pediatric experts, news about ground-breaking research, and feel-good moments delivered right to your inbox.

Subscribe Now
Patient Stories

Related Posts

A Little More Hope Than Fear: Looking Back on Fetal Surgery for Emmie & Gracie

With the expertise and support of Dr. Shaaban and Lurie Children's Chicago Institue for Fetal Health, Annie gave birth to Emmie and Gracie. Today, the girls are healthy and living life to the fullest.

Read More

With Superhero Strength, Leo Defies Mental Health Stigmas

After being diagnosed with ADHD, Leo began working Lurie Children's Dr. John Parkhurst. Through therapy, Leo learned how to harness his skills and strengths to better communicate with his family and friends.

Read More

First Spinal Cord Stimulation Implant Relieves Isabella of Severe Chronic Nerve Pain

In 2021, 13-year-old Isabella started suffering from chronic nerve pain across her entire body. While the road to diagnosis took time, her eventual outcome thanks to Neurosurgeon Dr. Jeffrey Raskin was a life-changing one.

Read More