Lucio Torres, held by his grandmother Rosie Regalado, is thriving under the watchful eye of his healthcare team: (from left) Dr. Adriana Da Silveira, craniofacial orthodontist; Dr. Patrick Kelley, craniofacial surgeon; Bud Bronkhorst, orthotics designer; Mary Breen, RN, advanced practice nurse; Dr. Patricia Aronin, pediatric neurosurgeon; and Dr. Timothy George, pediatric neurosurgeon.
Gaze into the face of 16-month-old Lucio Torres and you’ll see his eyes; they gleam, keen and alert, almost mirthful. Lucio, despite his condition, is a happy little boy.
Lucio was born with a teratoma, a Greek medical term that roughly translates as “monstrous tumor.” At birth, the side of Lucio’s head was grossly misshapen, the bulging tumor threatening his left eye, ear and brain.
“Before, when you had problems like this, you were sent to Dallas or Houston,” said Adriana Da Silveira, DDS, PhD, a craniofacial orthodontist who is part of the remarkable team at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas that continues to work with Lucio.
When Lucio was four months old, doctors removed the tumor. “Lucio’s surgery was very complex because it was so close to the brain, close to the eye, close to the ear,” Dr. Da Silveira added.
The procedure was performed by some of the best doctors in the business: Patrick Kelley, craniofacial surgeon and medical director of Pediatric Plastic Surgery, and pediatric
neurosurgeons Timothy George and Patricia Aronin.
“It was a very long operation,” Dr. Da Silveira recalled. “After they removed the tumor, it left a huge defect on Lucio’s skull.”
Efforts to correct that asymmetry then began. Dr. Da Silveira made a plaster cast of Lucio’s face to determine what facial features needed work. Next, she needed to locate a company willing to design a special corrective infant “helmet” that would not only protect the head and apply corrective pressure to deformities of the skull but would also include a special attachment to reform the cheekbone.
Dr. Da Silveira’s search led her to local orthotics designer Arie J. “Bud” Bronkhorst with Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics Inc. who agreed to design the special cheek guard.
Now, under the watchful eyes of the team, Lucio’s face is carefully being reshaped. And despite the hard reality that he will need continued treatment, orthodontic care, bone grafts, reconstructive surgery, probably until he stops growing, Dr. Da Silveira believes Lucio has a bright future.
“He’s all smiles.”