3D printing saves life of baby born with brain outside his skull

Expecting parents Dustin and Sierra Yoder were handed dreadful news during a routine prenatal ultrasound. The pair were told their baby boy had encephalocele, a rare birth defect that causes the brain to grow outside the brain cavity due to a hole in the skull. Normally a fatal condition, this story has a happy outcome thanks to a pair of surgeons who used 3D printing to devise a successful treatment, reports STAT.

The story of Bentley and his miracle treatment started in early 2015 when Dustin and Sierra Yoder discovered they were expecting their second child. This joy turned to despair when the couple received the encephalocele diagnosis and were told by doctors that the “baby would be ‘incompatible with life,” said Sierra Yoder to STAT.

Immediately following the diagnosis, the Yoders had to make the difficult decision whether to continue the pregnancy or terminate it at that point. Because she was already more than 22 weeks along, this decision had to be made immediately. After briefly considering an abortion, the pair decided to deliver the baby and care for him until he passed. “The night before the procedure, I told Dustin I couldn’t do it,” Yoder said to the Washington Post.

Months later, Yoder went into labor, and the couple traveled to the hospital with just a small bag of essentials to care for Sierra during her labor and delivery, and a little outfit for the baby to wear during his first and final hours of life. After he was born, the baby, named Bentley Ross Yoder, was rushed to his parents so they could hold and comfort him. Instead of passing quietly as expected, Bentley was thriving. “But he was crying, and he was breathing, and he was moving,” said Sierra Yoder to the Washington Post. “We were all just staring at him. For the first four or five hours of his life, we were all just waiting for something to happen.”

Defying all odds, Bentley was able to return home with his parents after three days in the hospital. While at home, he endured several health issues, including two lung infections that required treatment with a breathing machine. Despite these setbacks, he continued to grow and thrive. The couple sought the advice of neurosurgeons who confirmed baby Bentley was using his brain, including the part that protruded outside his skull. Unfortunately, the doctors did not know how to move Bentley’s brain tissue, which extended several inches outside his head, back into the safety of his skull. Not satisfied with the prognosis, the Yoders traveled from their home in Ohio to Boston to seek treatment from the doctors at Boston’s Children’s Hospital.

Neurosurgeon-in-chief Mark Proctor and plastic surgeon John Meara took on Bentley’s case and worked together to formulate a treatment plan. In most cases, doctors remove the portion of the brain that is outside the skull and then close the cranium to protect the remaining brain tissue. Bentley’s case was unusual because he was using all of his brain tissue. Doctors could not remove his brain, so they decided instead to expand his skull and allow the brain to slide back into his cranium.

To prepare for this challenging surgery, the surgeons created several 3D-printed models of Bentley’s skull. These models allowed the surgeons to plan the operation and practice it several times before entering the operating room. With a plan in hand, the doctors completed the surgery in just five hours. In the month following the surgery, Bentley has improved dramatically — “He is now able to hold up his head. He’s eating. He’s smiling. He’s jabbering,” said Sierra in a Washington Post interview.

Health & Fitness

Forget foam. This fluid-filled helmet mimics your brain to protect your head

Fluid Inside is a protective system for designed to prevent injuries not only to the skull of an athlete but brain trauma as well using an innovative approach that is adaptable to cycling, skiing, hockey, and other sports.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (May 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now (May 2019)

Amazon Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be a major undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Emerging Tech

Whose name should we etch on the Mars 2020 rover? NASA wants a vote

Dream of making it to Mars? NASA has opened up a new public outreach program to let people send their names to the Red Planet, as an engraving on a silicon chip launched with the Mars 2020 rover.
Emerging Tech

Watch live as SpaceX tries, for the third time, to launch 60 Starlink satellites

SpaceX is having another go at launching the first 60 satellites for its ultra-ambitious Starlink internet constellation. Here's how you can tune in live to watch it all go down today.
Emerging Tech

What would it take to build a Matrix-level simulation of reality?

What would it take, technologically speaking, to build a real version of the Matrix? We definitely don't have the technical abilities to do that now, but we're rapidly approaching the point that we will. In this article, MIT computer…
Emerging Tech

SpaceX joins internet-from-space race with launch of 60 Starlink satellites

SpaceX has launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying its first batch of Starlink satellites for its ambitious internet-from-space project. The payload, SpaceX's heaviest to date, successfully deployed an hour after liftoff.
Emerging Tech

The best solar chargers for your phone, tablet, and other battery-powered gear

Looking for a gizmo that can help you charge your phone while on the go? Here, we've outlined the best solar chargers on the market, whether you're looking to charge your phone once, twice, or three times over.
Emerging Tech

This plane-pulling robo-dog makes Boston Dynamics’ Spot look scrawny

A robot dog created by researchers at Italy’s Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia showed off its impressive ability to pull a three-ton airplane down a runway. Check it out in action.
Emerging Tech

Scientists discover unexpected underwater volcano off the coast of Africa

Geologists first noticed something unusual in the Indian Ocean in November last year, when they detected a massive seismic event. Now further research has revealed that the source of the seismic activity is an enormous underwater volcano.
Emerging Tech

Jupiter’s vast magnetic field stretches over time, driven by atmospheric wind

Jupiter has the most powerful magnetic field in our Solar System, 18,000 times as strong as Earth's. Now scientists have discovered that the field changes over time, in an effect called secular variation.
Emerging Tech

Three rare exocomets spotted in orbit around a nearby star

Scientists have spotted three exocomets, or comets outside of our Solar System, in orbit around a bright young star called Beta Pictoris in the constellation of Pictor using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanets Survey Satellite (TESS).
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Tricked-out e-scooters and bike lights that lock

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!