The Case History of Diego
In September of 2007, Diego at the age of 22, fell from a moving vehicle and was rushed to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center where a life saving procedure known as an emergent craniectomy was performed. This procedure entails the removal of a large portion of the skull in order to create more room within the cranial vault, thus allowing the injured brain to expand or swell without causing further brain damage. Diego survived the initial traumatic event but unfortunately after several surgeries at Santa Clara, his original bone flap could not be saved due to infection. After several months of therapy, Diego made an amazing recovery, regaining much of his strength and attempting to return to his life prior to his injury. Given the lack of a bony barrier, he had been given a special helmet to be worn at all times in order to protect the underlying brain tissue. Diego was at this point when I first saw him at UCLA to address the problem of his cranial defect.
Given that several months had passed since Diego's initial craniectomy, special care had to be taken during surgery to meticulously separate the scalp from the underlying brain tissue, so as to prevent any further brain damage. The synthetic piece, which almost exactly mimicked Diego's own skull, was then placed to fill the bony defect.
Postoperatively, Diego did very well and remained neurologically unchanged. He was able to eat and ambulate on post-operative day #1 and was discharged home less than 48 hours after his surgery. With the correction of his skull defect, we hope that Diego can finally put his injury and the events that surrounded it behind him in order to live a happy and most fulfilling life. He was a model patient and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors.
Bob Shafa, MD