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Health Team

Infant skull surgery success for Raleigh boy

Posted August 31, 2011 1:30 p.m. EDT
Updated August 31, 2011 6:15 p.m. EDT

— The case of a 2-year-old Raleigh boy offers hope to the parents of other children whose infants are born with a skull deformity.

Today, Colt Jackson is like most other boys, but he was born with craniosynostosis.

"His head didn't seem to have a soft spot. There was also a ridge on top," his father Morgan Jackson said.

In babies such as Colt, the saggitall suture, which is tissue that connects the two skull bones, fuses too early. That puts pressure on the brain and can change the shape of the head.

Colt underwent a pioneering treatment at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. The endoscopic procedure, which uses two small incisions, is less invasive than the standard open surgery.

Recovery is quicker, but it requires a baby to wear helmet to shape the head for up to 18 months.

Colt wore the special helmets for 15 months.

"I was concerned that he was not going to take to it very well, but honestly, he took to it right away, didn't really know any different," his mother Shawn Jackson said.

His older sister Emsley had fun decorating her younger brother's helmets. "We had stickers for Halloween. We had stickers for Easter," Morgan Jackson said.

In January, Colt's helmet came off for good. He had a normal, round head.

"He enjoyed the freedom the minute it came off. He never looked back," Shawn Jackson said.

The endoscopic surgery is now available at Duke University Hospital. Four-month-old Catherine Bowman, of Sumter, S.C., became the first infant in North Carolina to undergo it on Aug. 17.

Duke surgeons say it's important for parents to notice the problem and get it diagnosed early, because surgery is most effective when done by the time the baby is five months old.

The Jacksons urged the parents of babies with craniosynostosis to go with the endoscopic surgery and helmet treatment.

"You get a wonderful-shaped head and a perfectly healthy child that has no scars," Morgan Jackson said.