What Is Craniosynostosis?

What Happens If a Baby's Skull Fuses Too Early?

For parents, the term craniosynostosis (or craniofacial deformities) can sound overwhelming and difficult to understand. But the important thing to know is that these congenital differences (differences your baby was born with) are treatable. Our team of pediatric specialists are well trained and know about the most current treatment options that are best for your child.

Craniosynostosis is when sections (also called sutures) inside a baby’s skull fuse together, or close, too early. As a result, a baby’s skull grows into an abnormal or deformed head shape.

Craniosynostosis can also increase your baby’s chances of developing pressure inside her skull. This is because your child’s growing brain has a limited space to expand inside her skull. Pressure in the skull can lead to:

  • Headaches,
  • Problems with vision, and
  • Developmental delays.

To correct a child’s misshapen head and prevent pressure inside the skull from raising, a specialist can rebuild your child’s cranium to reshape their skull, giving their brain room to grow. The best time for this reconstruction is before a child has reached one year of age. You can also read about plagiocephaly.

How Do You Treat Craniosynostosis?

Surgeons traditionally use two treatments for craniosynostosis:

  1. Cranial vault reconstruction, and
  2. Cranial vault distraction.

For these procedures, your child’s doctor will make an incision (cut) on the scalp from ear to ear and remove the fused portion of your child’s skull. A surgeon will then reconstruct the cranium (depending on the type of craniosynostosis) to give your child’s brain more room to grow inside her skull and to give your child’s head a more normal appearance. This procedure is usually performed between six to 12 months of age.

Treatment Procedures

  • Cranial vault reconstruction
  • Cranial vault distraction
  • Endoscopic-assisted strip craniectomy

Less-Invasive Craniosynostosis Treatment Procedures

If you’re worried about your baby having surgery, there is a less-invasive surgical option for infants who are under six months old and have just one suture (called non-syndromic craniosynostosis). Instead of rebuilding the cranial vault, our surgeons can perform an endoscopic-assisted strip craniectomy and place your child in a helmet after their procedure. This helmet will gently guide your child’s skull growth and shape.

In this procedure, surgeons make two small incisions (cuts) so surgeons can remove the fused suture with an endoscope. For most children, this type of surgery causes minimal swelling and scarring. Recovery time is also faster than a full cranial surgery.

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