Craniosynostosis is premature fusion of the joints between infant skull bones. This is a condition that affects approximately 1 in 2000 babies. In most cases it is not known why it occurs.
Infant skulls are made up of individual plates of bone, and the areas where these plates join are known as sutures. This design allows the infant skull to mould and facilitates passage though the birth canal. Skull bone growth also occurs at the sutures.
There are 4 main sutures in the skull:
The metopic suture usually closes between the age of 6 months and 2 years. The others usually fuse in adulthood. Craniosynostosis occurs when one or more of the cranial sutures fuse too early, usually in utero.
If a suture fuses early, skull bone growth no longer occurs at that suture, although it can continue to do so at the other normal sutures as the underlying brain continues to grow. As a result the shape of the skull becomes abnormal, reflecting the restriction of growth at the relevant suture. For example babies with Sagittal Craniosynostosis develop a long narrow head, with a prominent forehead and back of head. This is known as scaphocephaly. Babies with Metopic Craniosynostosis develop a narrow forehead, often with a pointed ridge in the midline, and the back of the head is relatively wide, giving an overall triangular shape to the skull. This is known as trigonocephaly.
The impact of the Craniosynostosis on the underlying brain has been extensively studied but there are differing results reported. Whilst it does appear that some pressure is applied to the brain in the region of the bony restriction, the significance of this, if any, is unclear. If the brain is structurally normal and your child has no other developmental problems, the restriction is released with an operation and it would be anticipated that they continue to develop normally.
The surgical treatment for the various forms of Craniosynostosis varies, depending on which suture is fused. Surgery is undertaken by Dr O’Mahony, a Craniofacial Plastic Surgeon, together with a Paediatric Neurosurgeon. Please click on the links below to find out more about surgery for Craniosynostosis.
If you have any questions about this procedure, please do not hesitate to ask Dr O’Mahony via our contact us page.
Some links from this page are currently being updated and more information will be coming shortly.