What is craniosynostosis surgery?
Craniosynostosis is a condition in which the fibrous joints between the skull bones fuse too early. These joints are known as sutures. If this occurs (usually before or at birth) it can cause an abnormal head shape, or in some cases restrict growth of the brain, which increases the pressure inside the skull.
Surgery for craniosynostosis is designed to correct the abnormal head shape and allow the growing brain room to expand normally.
The surgery for craniosynostosis is typically performed in the first two years of life. There are multiple types of surgery used to treat craniosynostosis, including strip craniectomy, spring-assisted craniectomy and cranial vault remodeling, amongst others. Not all patients are a candidate for all types of surgery. The surgery is performed by a team of a plastic surgeon and a neurosurgeon, working together.
What craniosynostosis surgery can treat
- Abnormal skull shapes that result from early suture fusion
- Raised intracranial pressure (ICP), or pressure on the brain caused by restriction of skull growth
- Certain problems with eye position related to suture fusion
Who is a good candidate for craniosynostosis surgery?
Good candidates for craniosynostosis surgery include:
- Younger infants. Most procedures for the treatment of craniosynostosis are performed before the age of one year, and some are performed before 3-4 months of age.
- Almost any child with a fused suture is a candidate for surgery.
- Extra care is needed for children with craniosynostosis who also have other severe medical problems, such as heart defects. The decision for surgery in these patients should be made by a multidisciplinary team that experienced in the care of complex patients with craniosynostosis.
Your plastic surgeon will examine your child, determine if craniosynostosis is likely and discuss what types of surgical procedures are options for your child. In some cases, additional imaging, such as a CT scan, might be needed to help with diagnosis or to plan surgery.