More surgery for Indian baby with swollen head

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Doctors said on Saturday they plan to carry out more surgery on a two-year-old Indian girl to correct a rare disorder that caused her head to balloon to twice its normal size.

Roona Begum, whose plight won international sympathy, has battled through a string of complex, life-saving surgeries which saw doctors drain fluid from her head and dramatically reduce the size of her skull.

After reviewing the baby's response to treatment, the neurosurgery team plans to "go ahead with the next round of procedures to further remodel her skull", the medical research institute which is treating her said in a statement.

The surgery is likely to take place next week, the Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurgaon, a satellite city of Indian capital New Delhi, said.

"The five surgeries we performed earlier have not only helped the child survive a potentially fatal condition but also enabled her to attain improved nutritional status," said neurosurgery director Sandeep Vaishya.

"This will be the first step in the next round of treatment for the child. We are monitoring her condition and will proceed with the surgery once we get a go-ahead from her attending paediatrician," he added.

Roona, who lives in a village in the remote north-eastern state of Tripura and whose parents are impoverished labourers, was born with hydrocephalus, a potentially fatal condition that causes cerebrospinal fluid to build up on the brain.

Her condition had caused her head to swell to a circumference of 94cm, putting pressure on her brain and making it impossible for her to sit upright or crawl.

Her head circumference shrank to 58cm after procedures conducted between April and July at the hospital, run by the private Fortis Healthcare group.

She was first admitted to the hospital in April where she spent 105 days before being discharged.

Although Roona's skull is likely to remain large compared with those of other children, she has a good chance of developing normally, provided her neck muscles can grow strong enough to support her head, doctors have said.

Roona's parents were too poor to pay for treatment, but publication of pictures taken by an AFP photographer prompted the hospital to offer to treat her for free.