This birth defect occurs because some of the joints in a baby’s skull closed before the brain was fully formed. This prevented the brain from growing in its natural shape, leading to a misshapen head. The disorder can be because of an underlying brain abnormality preventing the brain from growing properly. Surgery aimed at separating the fused bones is the standard mode of treatment, provided there’s no underlying brain abnormality, and this allows the brain to have adequate space to grow and develop.
Among the most common types of craniosynostosis are:
Sagittal synostosis: This forces the head to grow long and narrow, rather than wide. This is the most common type of craniosynostosis.
Coronal synostosis: Caused by the premature fusion of a structure that run from each ear to the sagittal suture on top of the head, this may force a baby’s forehead to flatten on the affected side, raise the eye socket and cause a deviated nose and slanted skull.
Bicoronal synostosis: Refers to a form of the disorder that may give your baby’s forehead a flat and elevated appearance.
Doctors at BRAINS will put your baby through a comprehensive physical examination including feeling his head for abnormalities such as suture ridges. They will also look for facial deformities. As a follow up they may order imaging tests to see whether the sutures are fused and to ascertain the precise dimensions of the baby’s skull. If our doctor suspect that a baby’s misshapen skull may be owing hereditary factors then they may prescribe genetic testing to identify the syndrome.
The cases of craniosynostosis that involve only one suture and no underlying syndrome may not have to be treated at all with the skull abnormalities becoming less obvious as the baby grows and develops hair.
However, in most cases surgery remains the frontline treatment, with its type and timing depending on the type of craniosynostosis and whether there’s an underlying syndrome requiring treatment.
The objective of our surgeons would be to relieve pressure on the brain and create room for it to grow normally. A team that includes a specialist in craniofacial (head and face) surgery and a specialist in brain surgery (neurosurgeon) often performs the procedure.
Normally, post-surgery a baby is required to stay in the hospital for at least three days. In some cases a second surgery later may be required to treat the recurrence of craniosynostosis. Also, children with facial deformities often require future surgeries to reshape their faces.
Endoscopic surgery: This less invasive form of surgery is effective in some cases. It involves the insertion of a lighted tube (endoscope) through one or two small scalp incisions over the affected suture with the intent of opening the suture to enable your baby’s brain to grow normally. Endoscopic surgery usually takes about an hour, causes less swelling and blood loss and shortens the hospital stay.
Computerized tomography (CT) scan: A CT scan uses X-rays to get cross-sectional images of a child’s brain. It is used to identify abnormalities in the brain. Scanning is painless and takes about 20 minutes. But because your child will need to be very still during the test, he or she will likely receive a mild sedative.