Craniosynostosis is a condition where some, or all, of the growth centers in the skull, called cranial sutures, close too early. This causes problems with growth and development of the skull. Typically, infants with this condition have a very abnormal skull shape. Intracranial pressure can also be increased, causing problems in the development of the brain.

It is very important to distinguish craniosynostosis from plagiocephaly.  Plagiocephaly can be treated with a helmet where craniosynostosis is gennerallly treated with surgery.

Surgery for craniosynostosis can be either of two types depending on the severity, type and age at diagnosis. 

The first type is called “strip craniectomy”.  This procedure is usually done in the first three months of life and involves removal of the diseased suture.  This allows skull growth to proceed more normally.  Skull shape is typically not improved by the procedure, but by removing the suture early, shape can be kept from getting any worse.  A helmet may also be used to help with skull shape.

The second type of surgery is called “cranial vault reconstruction”.  This procedure is more involved and is usually done at about 6 months of age.  This technique is much more involved and allows for reshaping of the skull and brow areas.  This technique involves removing the bone of the skull, reshaping it, and replacing it.  The bones are held in position with plates and screws that dissolve over time (about 12-18 months).  This allows the bones to heal and solidify again, but also allows for future growth.

Both types of surgery can be risky, but both can also be very effective in the right situation.  Dr. Warnock can help you determine which procedure is best for your baby.

Both of these procedures are done in conjunction with the pediatric neurosurgeons at Primary Children’s Medical Center.  Diagnostic tests typically include a CT scan of the skull and brain and sometimes an MRI. 

Babies typically stay in the pediatric ICU for one night after surgery and will need to remain in the hospital for 3-4 days.

About Craniosynostosis


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