What Is Hydranencephaly? Toddler With 'Devil Horns' Requires Reconstructive Surgery

File photo: Surgeons perform an operation. Getty Images

Filipino toddler Clyne Solano is in need of reconstructive surgery following a brain operation that left his head with unusual ridges. Although some some have compared the bones to "devil horns," the child's mother says he is an "angel," The Mirror has reported.

The 22-month-old is battling a rare condition called hydranencephaly, in which the right and left sides of the brain do not develop properly.

In March, doctors performed an operation to relieve swelling on Solano's brain. Although it was a success, it affected the way his skull developed. Parts of his skull caved in where brain tissue was missing, leaving the two bony ridges.

''Some people say his head resembles devil horns, but to us there's no doubt he is an angel," his mother, Justine, said. "It breaks my heart to see him suffering."

She said her son now faces reconstructive surgery to give him a more normal skull—but she is afraid he won't survive another operation. "I don't want to proceed with it for now because I am afraid that my baby is not yet strong enough for it," Justine said. "[But] if we don't do it, his head will look like that for the rest of his life," she continued.

The family has sold most of their possessions, she added, to fund Solano's healthcare. "We will keep fighting for as long as Clyne does, and when he has no strength we will be there for him," she said. "We have heard stories of babies [with] hydranencephaly living into their teens; Clyne's strong so I know he can do it."

Babies with hydranencephaly have sacs of cerebrospinal fluid where the hemispheres of their brain should be, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reported. The condition develops in the womb, but may not become obvious for weeks or even months after birth.

When they are a few months old, infants with hydranencephaly may experience seizures, visual impairment, deafness, paralysis, blindness and cognitive limitations. Excessive amounts of cerebrospinal fluid may also collect in their brains, the Institute stated.

Although the exact causes of hydranencephaly are unknown, it may be an inherited disorder, the National Organization for Rare Disorders reported.

Although most babies with hydranencephaly die by the age of one, some children live for several years. There is no cure for hydranencephaly, but some patients undergo surgery to place a shunt that can relieve pressure from the buildup of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain.