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Craniosynostosis

Overview

What is craniosynostosis?

Craniosynostosis is a condition that affects the shape of the head and face. It occurs when the bones of the skull close too early, before the brain has finished growing. A newborn’s skull has seven bones, which are separated by spaces called sutures. As an infant’s brain grows, it pushes the bones of the skull outward. Craniosynostosis prevents the brain from growing normally, so the head becomes misshapen. Because there are multiple sutures that can fuse, there a several different types of craniosynostosis:

Sagittal synostosis occurs when the suture at the top of the head (the sagittal suture) closes too early, forcing the head to grow long and narrow, instead of wide.

Coronal synostosis (anterior plagiocephaly) occurs when one of the sutures that runs from the ear to the top of head (a coronal suture) closes too early, forcing the head to flatten on the fused side.

Bicoronal synostosis (brachycephaly) occurs when both of the sutures that run from the ear to the top of head (the coronal sutures) close too early, forcing the forehead and brow to become flat and elevated.

Metopic synostosis (trigonocephaly) occurs when suture that runs from the nose to the top of the head (the metopic suture) closes too early, forcing the top of the head to have a triangular shape.

Lambdoid synostosis (posterior plagiocephaly) occurs when the suture at the back of the head closes too early (lambdoid suture), forcing the head to flatten on the fused side.

What causes craniosynostosis?

Craniosynostosis occurs in 1 in 2,500 births (1). When cause of craniosynostosis is unknown, it’s classified as non-syndromatic. When craniosynostosis is a symptom of a medical condition, it’s classified as syndromatic. Craniosynostosis is often a symptom of Apert, Pfeiffer and Crouzon syndromes.

1) Slater BJ, Lenton KA, Kwan MD, Gupta DM, Wan DC, Longaker MT (April 2008). "Cranial sutures: a brief review". Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 121 (4): 170e–8e. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18349596

How does craniosynostosis impact a child?

Because Craniosynostosis affects the growth of the head and face there are a range of symptoms, which may include (but are not limited to):

  • Missing "soft spot" (fontanelle) on the newborn's skull
  • A raised hard ridge along the affected sutures
  • Irregular head and face shape
  • Impaired head growth
  • Increased intracranial pressure
  • Dental malformations

Treatment

Can craniosynostosis be treated?

Treating craniosynostosis usually involves surgery to separate the fused bones. Our team works with our patients and their families to develop a treatment plan that address each patient’s specific needs.

Resources

About Face

Children's Craniofacial Association