India’s First Ever Skull Transplant Helps A Four-Year-Old Girl In Pune

2018 has seen a fair share of medical breakthroughs and advances in the traditional treatments of healthcare. With never-seen-before technology, world-class facilities, and evolution of medicine, India has recently sped into the new territory of skull implants when they replaced 60 percent of a four-year-old girl’s damaged skull in Pune. 

Developed by a US based-firm, customized three-dimensional individualized polyethylene bone that was made according to the size of the patient's skull. The doctors claimed that this is the first successful skull implant surgery to be successfully carried out in India. After sustaining an extreme head injury in a car accident near Shirwal on May 31st, she underwent two critical surgeries last year. The doctors re-admitted her in the hospital on May 18th for skull implant surgery which was a first-ever attempt by the doctors where they successfully replaced the damaged part of the skull. 



“She is already attending school and enjoying playing with friends. She has become a happy and chirpy child, like before,” says her mother. The impact of the accident was severe. She was brought to our hospital in an unconscious state.” The girl was bleeding profusely from the head. She was immediately put on ventilator support. The CT scan showed severe brain swelling with a fracture to the rear bone of the skull (occipital bone) that was slightly compressing over the brain. This had led to an excess accumulation of fluid (edema) in the spaces of the brain,” says Dr. Jitendra Oswal who treated her initially in Bharati Hospital. 

After her initial admission in the hospital, she didn’t show any signs of recovery for almost 48 hours of admission. The impact of the accident was so powerful that they had to perform repeated CT scans to identify the condition of her brain. Her brain was suffering from a condition called malignant cerebral edema, a complication in traumatic brain injury that is often fatal. “The impact of the trauma was so severe that it had pushed the entire brain off center, which is known, medically, as a midline shift of the brain,” Oswal said.

Despite performing artificial ventilation and medical therapy, the edema didn’t subside. The neurosurgeons then removed the full frontal as well as partial parietal and temporal bones of the damaged skull, releasing the pressure on the brain. “Usually, when the cranial bone is removed, it is refrigerated and re-implanted after the swelling subsides. However, owing to the girl’s tender age and the brittle nature of her cranial bone, it had to be discarded. After the skull-bone removal surgery, she responded well to treatment and recovered gradually. She was discharged after two months of hospitalization,” says Neurosurgeon Vishal Rokade. 

Advances like these are encouraging the talks of something that was just unthinkable 5 or 10 years ago, procedures that would help patients suffering from irreversible head injuries and give them a head start for a better life ahead.  

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