Indian toddler with swollen head undergoes more surgery

NEW DELHI - Doctors conducted reconstructive surgery Friday on a two-year-old Indian girl to correct a rare disorder that caused her head to balloon to twice its normal size, a neurosurgeon said.

Roona Begum, whose plight attracted international sympathy, underwent several rounds of surgery in May and June when doctors drained excess fluid from her head and dramatically reduced the size of her skull.

But she returned to the same hospital near New Delhi earlier this month for what doctors hope will be a final round of surgery which will see some of the bone removed from her skull which will then be rebuilt.

"We are trying to reduce the bulk and the weight of the head so her neck muscles can become stronger," neurosurgeon Sandeep Vaishya told AFP after completing the latest surgery on Friday at the Fortis Memorial Research Institute.

Roona, who lives with her impoverished parents in a village in India's remote northeast, was born with hydrocephalus, a potentially fatal condition that causes cerebrospinal fluid to build up on the brain.

Her condition caused her head to swell to a circumference of 94 centimetres (37 inches), putting pressure on her brain and making it impossible for her to sit upright.

Publication of pictures taken by an AFP photographer prompted the hospital to treat Roona for free, and the surgeries which followed saw her head circumference shrink to 58 centimetres.

She was first admitted to the hospital in April where she spent 105 days before being discharged in August.

She will undergo another procedure early next month to compress her head further.

Although Roona's skull is likely to remain large, she has a good chance of developing normally, provided her neck muscles can grow strong enough to support her head, doctors have said.