Cleft & Craniofacial Team at St. Mary's

804-287-7396

Craniosynostosis

Craniosynostosis is a condition caused by early closure of one or more of the normally present bony gaps between the bones of the skull. These bony gaps are called cranial sutures. “Soft spots” or fontanelles are where the sutures cross. The cranial sutures allow the brain to grow and expand during the first year of life. Normally, these sutures close at different times in a patient’s life as the brain growth stops . If the suture closes too early, the brain may not have adequate room to grow.

Approximately one infant in every 1000 births will have early closure of a cranial suture. Craniosynostosis does not improve with time and it can worsen with growth. This may result in a ridge in the area of the closed suture and a change in the shape of the skull. Some of the sutures that are affected are: metopic, coronal, sagittal and lambdoid. If more than one cranial suture is fused or closed, pressure inside the brain can become higher than normal. The diagnosis can be confirmed by simple examination of the child and in more complicated cases, XRAYS and/or a CT scan of the head.

Causes

In most cases the reason for craniosynostosis is not clear and is sporadic. However, some cases are related to certain medications the fetus may have been exposed to during pregnancy. Other times, craniosynostosis formation can be due to genetic reasons. If craniosynostosis is associated with other findings in the child, it may be part of a syndrome. In these cases, a geneticist may need to evaluate your child.

Treatment

Craniosynostosis is treated by performing surgery to the skull and forehead. The first goal is to open the closed sutures to prevent problems with high pressure in the brain and allow the brain to grow normally. The second goal is to obtain a normal shape of the skull and face. The timing and type of surgery your child will have depends on your child’s condition and your surgeon. Our surgical team offers the most recent advances in open and minimally invasive correction of craniosynostosis. Our comprehensive and specialized team includes a geneticist, craniofacial plastic surgeon, pediatric neurosurgeon and pediatric ophthalmologist who will care for your child every step of the way.

To learn more about craniosynostosis, please call 804-287-7396 to speak with our nurse coordinator, Linda Shait, RN.