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Craniofacial Surgery Gives Tijuana Teen Chance to be 'Normal' Kid

-- not realizing the bike didn’t have brakes. He was halfway down a hill when he saw a taxicab approaching … neither the driver nor Lozano was able to stop in time. As a result of the accident, he suffered extensive injuries to the right side of his skull. The stigma resulting from the deformity has prevented him from attending school for the past five years, so he’s been teaching himself at home rather than face teasing and heckling from classmates.

His mother, Conchita Medina, had consulted with several physicians in Mexico following her son’s initial surgery but was told that nothing further could be done to correct his deformity. Her eyes filled with tears of joy when Urata, who is an assistant professor of plastic surgery at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California and a research assistant professor at the USC School of Dentistry, first examined Lozano and said, “I think we can make a difference and that difference may change your life.”

Urata and Moise Danielpour, M.D., director of the Pediatric Neurosurgery Program at Cedars-Sinai’s Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, carefully planned Lozano’s surgery and worked side by side during the eight-hour operation on May 10.

“As in all secondary reconstructions, there was a lot of scar tissue that had to be removed initially and bleeding to be controlled,” Danielpour explained. “The dura (dura mater: the outermost membrane covering the brain) was absent in much of the injured area, so I had to create a dural patch graft to protect the brain and to prevent spinal fluid from leaking. We reconstructed the cranium and the base of the skull to make it more prominent and anatomically correct, using a titanium plate that we molded and shaped to create a type of scaffolding. We then coated the scaffolding with a material made of hydroxyapatite (the primary mineral component of bone), commonly called ‘bone paste’ or ‘bone cement’ that functions much like bo
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