Surgeon rebuilds babies’ skulls at Cardon Children’s
Special method limits risk of bleeding and complications
This method takes about one-third to half the time as traditional surgery – averaging 67 minutes compared to roughly four to six hours.

MESA, Ariz. (Jan. 8, 2020)– An internationally lauded craniofacial surgeon recently began applying new techniques for surgery on infants at Cardon Children’s Medical Center, to correct a birth defect in which the bones of the skull prematurely fuse together.

The condition, known as craniosynostosis, affects about one in every 2,000 live births. If untreated, it can lead to misshapen skulls, developmental delays and even death. The defect can only be fixed by highly specialized surgery that usually requires removing parts of the skull and reshaping them. Nearly all cases need costly blood transfusions that inherently pose health risks such as post-surgery infections and fevers.

But Robert Wood, MD, a Banner Children’s pediatric craniofacial and plastic surgeon, developed a method to rebuild babies’ skulls in a way that limits the risk of bleeding and complications. His method also drastically shortens the operation, called cranial vault remodeling surgery. In many of Dr. Wood’s cases, babies need little to no transfusions at all, according to a study recently highlighted in the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

He recently joined Banner Health, bringing these blood conservation techniques to the Valley for the first time. He is performing these surgeries with Banner pediatric neurosurgeon Ashley Tian, MD.

“This method takes about one-third to half the time as traditional surgery – averaging 67 minutes compared to roughly four to six hours,” said Dr. Wood, who has traveled the globe sharing this breakthrough with other surgeons.

The method, which he developed about four years ago, involves a variety of elements: managing red blood cell production before surgery, controling blood loss and diluting blood during the operation, and constricting blood vessels in the scalp. Dr. Wood also operates with a special blade that uses radio frequencies to cauterize the blood as it cuts.

About Cardon Children's Medical Center

Cardon Children’s Medical Center provides pediatric care for children, from newborns to teens. Services include immediate access to Level I trauma services and emergency care, a Level III neonatal intensive care unit, general pediatrics, surgical and rehabilitation services, hematology/oncology, urology, gastroenterology, neurology and outpatient services. For more information, visit

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