If you've noticed that your baby's head seems misshapen, it could be a sign of craniosynostosis. This condition occurs when the seams between the bones in an infant's skull (called sutures) close too soon.
Even though this sounds scary, the good news is that board-certified surgeon Christopher Brooks, MD, specializes in craniofacial treatments and brings his expertise from advanced fellowship training at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.
With the help of Dr. Brooks and our dedicated care team at Brooks Plastic Surgery in Hollywood, Florida, you can rest assured that your child's craniofacial needs are in capable hands.
We also know that when your child faces a medical situation, you want answers. To help you feel more confident in making decisions about your baby’s treatment, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to craniosynostosis. Read on to learn what you need to know.
Craniosynostosis: An overview
Infant skulls are designed to accommodate brain growth. That’s why they have sutures, which are made of soft material that allows the skull to expand as the brain develops. They typically harden and fuse around age 2.
In babies with craniosynostosis, however, these sutures close too early. As a result, the baby’s skull takes on an irregular shape as the brain continues to grow, and the unfused areas of the skull struggle to compensate.
In addition to an abnormal head shape, the condition can lead to heightened pressure within the skull, impeding optimal brain development. For this reason, it’s essential to seek medical help if you suspect craniosynostosis.
Types of craniosynostosis
There are several types of craniosynostosis. Most babies with the condition are diagnosed with sagittal synostosis. This type of condition is characterized by the closing of the sutures that run along the top of the baby’s head.
Another common type of craniosynostosis is coronal synostosis. With this type, one or both of the sutures running from the ear to the top of the head closes prematurely.
Some children experience rare types of craniosynostosis, including metopic synostosis, in which the seam from the nose to the top of the head fuses too early, or lambdoid synostosis, when the seam along the back of the head closes too soon.
It’s best to schedule an evaluation as soon as you suspect an issue with the sutures on your child’s head. Being treated before 12 months of age greatly improves your baby’s prognosis.
How we treat craniosynostosis
The best therapy for your baby’s misshapen skull depends on the severity and specific type of craniosynostosis. Dr. Brooks reviews your baby’s history and examines their skull before making a personalized craniosynostosis treatment recommendation.
Not all babies require surgery. For example, in very mild cases, a molded helmet may be all that’s required to correct your child’s head shape if the sutures remain open.
Most of the time, however, surgery offers the best outcomes and prognosis. If your baby is younger than six months, Dr. Brooks may recommend minimally invasive, endoscopic surgery.
Endoscopic surgery involves creating space by removing a small piece of skull bone through two small incisions. This allows your baby’s skull and brain to grow normally with a faster recovery time compared to open surgery. Your baby wears a molded helmet as they recover.
Babies over six months or with certain types of craniosynostosis, Dr. Brooks may recommend cranial vault remodeling. During this open surgery, Dr. Brooks opens the fused seams and remodels your baby’s skull.
After the procedure, your baby’s skull and brain can grow normally, and they won’t need to wear a molded helmet during the recovery period, though the recovery can take longer and be more involved compared to endoscopic surgery.
If you’re worried about your baby’s head shape, don’t wait to schedule a consultation online or over the phone with Dr. Brooks and the team at Brooks Plastic Surgery in Hollywood, Florida.