HOUSTON — Elliot Ingham was born five weeks early with a large dent in his skull. His mom, Alyssa, says she knew right away that something was wrong with her baby boy.
“It was very obvious. As soon as I saw him, you could see the dent on his head,” said Ingham. “It was sad. I maybe had 2 minutes with him before they took him to the other hospital.”
Doctors said it is very rare for babies to be born with a depressed skull fracture. It is typically treated with brain surgery.
However, his medical team at UTHealth Houston had an idea to try something different. Dr. David Sandberg, a pediatric neurosurgeon with UTHealth Houston & Children’s Memorial Hermann, said surgical physician assistant Emilie Martinez suggested using a breast pump to suction the baby’s skull back into place. Martinez also happens to be breastfeeding and pumping for her 10-month-old baby.
The non-invasive procedure, which was done bedside in the NICU, worked within a few minutes.
“There were literal high fives and hugs. Dad and grandma were freaking out. Everyone in the NICU was there with breath held. There was a huge sigh of relief and hugs all around,” said Martinez, MS, PA-C with UTHealth Houston.
Doctors say the procedure has been done successfully on two infants. They say it is worth trying on all babies born with the rare condition to send them home to families faster.