Surgeons take 18-month-old's skull apart and reassemble it like a jigsaw in ...

A toddler underwent a potentially life-saving surgery at just 18 months old to dismantle and piece his skull back together - like a 'jigsaw'.

Riley Maddox developed craniosynostosis months after being born, which is a rare condition that causes the plates of the skull to fuse together.

The irregular skull shape can crush parts of the brain, which may lead to learning difficulties, eye problems and ultimately death.

Experts do not know what causes the condition - which affects an estimated one in every 1,800 to 3,000 children - but believe it may be genetic.

Riley, now five, has a zig-zag scar that acts as a permanent reminder of the surgical procedure and his condition has caused delays in his development, which may prove permanent. 

Riley Maddox had a life-saving five-hour surgery at just 18-months-old to dismantle and piece his skull back together - like a 'jigsaw'

Riley Maddox had a life-saving five-hour surgery at just 18-months-old to dismantle and piece his skull back together - like a 'jigsaw'

The boy, from Doncaster, developed craniosynostosis months after being born

The irregular skull shape can crush parts of the brain which may lead to learning difficulties, eye problems and ultimately death

The boy, from Doncaster, developed craniosynostosis months after being born. The irregular skull shape can crush parts of the brain which may lead to learning difficulties, eye problems and ultimately death

His stay-at-home mother, Amanda, 39, said Riley (pictured together), now five years old, has a speech impediment, struggles with balancing on one leg and cannot yet ride a bike

His stay-at-home mother, Amanda, 39, said Riley (pictured together), now five years old, has a speech impediment, struggles with balancing on one leg and cannot yet ride a bike

Riley underwent an intricate, painstaking five-hour operation which saw surgeons cut his skull from ear to ear. 

The youngster was unable to open his eyes which were completely 'swollen' shut and spent days in a high dependency unit.

He now has a speech impediment, struggles with balancing on one leg and cannot yet ride a bike - despite being five years old.

However, the determined schoolboy remains in high spirits and is enjoying life back at home in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

His stay-at-home mother, Amanda, 39, said: 'Riley will be six in June but he is very much behind what you would expect of a child his age.

'You're signing a consent form to send such a tiny, little person down for such as big, daunting operation.

'It's such a mix of emotions. I felt awful because I'm his mum and my job is to protect him.'

A zig-zag scar acts as a permanent reminder of the surgical procedure and Riley's condition has caused delays in his development, which may prove permanent.

The youngster was unable to open his eyes which were completely 'swollen' shut and spent days in a high dependency unit

A zig-zag scar acts as a permanent reminder of the surgical procedure and Riley's condition has caused delays in his development, which may prove permanent

Prior to the surgery, craniosynostosis affected Riley's life on a daily basis, restricting his brain's normal development

Prior to the surgery, craniosynostosis affected Riley's life on a daily basis, restricting his brain's normal development

WHAT IS CRANIOSYNOSTOSIS?

Craniosynostosis is a rare skull problem that causes a baby to be born with, or develop, an abnormally shaped head.

It is rare, affecting an estimated one in every 1,800 to 3,000 children. Three out of every four cases affect boys.

The irregular skull shape in craniosynostosis can cause persistent headaches, learning difficulties, eye problems and other symptoms.

Craniosynostosis is the result of the premature fusion of different sections of the skull. 

This means the skull is unable to grow in affected areas.

When one area of the skull is prevented from growing, other areas may 'overgrow' to compensate and limit the pressure developing around the brain. 

She continued: 'If he hadn't had the operation his misshaped skull would have got worse as he got older. The pressure on his brain

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