Arkansas woman undergoes surgery to remove half her skull

A central Arkansas woman is had successful surgery to remove half of her skull to treat a rare disease.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — A Central Arkansas woman has undergone a major and risky surgery to replace nearly half of her skull after a genetic condition caused her skull to thicken and press against her brain.

The surgery was successful.

THV11 spoke with Amber Tedford back in June as she was preparing for a major surgery to replace a large section of her skull. It wasn’t the first time Tedford had this procedure done, but she was very hopeful it would be the last.

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"I'd say over the past few years, we've ended up in the ER between 20-30 times,” Tedford said in June.

She was raising a toddler within the confines of her darkened home to prevent the vicious migraines that have plagued her for years.

"Every single day I wake up with a headache and just play it by ear on which medication you're going to try," Tedford said. "I've tried just about all of them."

In her teens, 22-year-old Amber Tedford was diagnosed with the rare condition called Fibrous Dysplasia. It caused parts of her skull to thicken and harden 6 to 7 times more than it should be in places. She had the problem area removed and replaced with a titanium mesh. But in recent years, her skull has begun to thicken again.

"As this was growing, and pushing on all my nerves and stuff, it was causing all of my pain,” she said back in June.

In August, Tedford went through a second skull replacement. This time, the damaged bone and the titanium mesh were replaced with an implant made out of synthetic material.

Dr. Ali Krisht, director of the Arkansas Neuroscience Institute, was able to plan and rehearse the entire surgery on computers with imaging of Amber's skull.

"We perform the surgery by removing all this bone," Krisht said. "We erase the bone. Then once we do that, we make another picture, and we start building new bone. When we finish removing the bone, it is almost like replacing her skull. Then we just trim it to fit very well.

"From about [the middle of the top of the head] forward is real head. From there all the way back to where my brain stem is is all the 3D-printed skull. Then right around where my brain stem is, there's a little bit of titanium mesh. So that he could get as he could without paralyzing or risking it."

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Six months post-op and you can see, Amber no longer has to live in a world of darkness.

"It feels like I'm pregnant again because the food just tastes so good because I can taste it now," she said. "Everything is just so much better than before, in ways you don't really notice until you can't do those things, or they're not there anymore."

Dr. Krisht said the surgery should continue to be a success and Amber shouldn't have any more problems.

Back in June, we told you Tedford's friends set up a GoFundMe to help pay for the military wife's medical expenses. She said the donations helped her family immensely, but have stopped since surgery. If you'd like to help the Tedfords, visit their GoFundMe page.