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What You Need to Know about Craniosynostosis?

Craniosynostosis – An Overview

Craniosynostosis is a form of cranial (head) congenital (birth) defect that causes the bony plates in the baby’s skull to join prematurely. This can result in an under-developed brain as well as a misshapen head.

This condition can affect one or more joints in the baby’s skull. This condition is also related to a brain abnormality that results in retarded development of the brain.

This condition is mostly treatable using surgical methods to separate the prematurely joined plates of bones in the baby’s skull which allows for natural and normal growth of the baby’s brain.

Craniosynostosis

Signs and Symptoms of Craniosynostosis

The baby’s skull consists of seven boney plates that start to fuse after 2 years of age, which gives ample time for the natural growth and development of the baby’s brain. These joints are made from strong and fibrous tissue that holds these boney plates together and are called cranial sutures.

The signs of Craniosynostosis include:

  • Misshapen skull
  • Abnormal feeling of a ‘soft spot’ on the baby’s skull
  • Slow/no growth of the skull as baby grows
  • Baby’s skull shows a raised and hard ridge along the affected cranial sutures (joints)
  • Inter-cranial pressure can be noticed

These signs might not be noticeable right after birth but may become more apparent during the first few initial months.

Types of Craniosynostosis

There are several types of craniosynostosis. These are classified according to the cranial suture (joint) that they affect, these are:

  • Sagittal Synostosis – This is indicated when the suture at the top of the head (Sagittal suture) is prematurely fused (joined) and forces the head to develop long and narrow in shape. This is the most common type of Craniosynostosis.
  • Coronal Synostosis – The coronal suture is the boney plate that runs from one ear to the top of the head (Sagittal suture) and its premature fusion may cause the baby’s forehead to become flattened from the affected side. It may also cause the eye socket to get raised as well as causing a crooked nose and slanted skull.
  • Bi-coronal Synostosis – This is the condition when both the coronal sutures join prematurely. This causes the forehead and brow to become flat and elevated.

Causes of Craniosynostosis

Craniosynostosis is often classified as nonsyndromic or syndromic. Nonsyndromic craniosynostosis is the most common type of craniosynostosis, and its cause is unknown.

However, syndromic craniosynostosis is a complication caused by certain genetic syndromes, such as Apert syndrome, Pfeiffer syndrome and Crouzon syndrome, which can affect your baby’s skull development.

Complications associated with Craniosynostosis

Babies with craniosynostosis, particularly those with an underlying syndrome, may develop increased pressure inside the skull (intracranial pressure). Their skulls don’t expand enough to make room for their growing brains.

If untreated, increased intracranial pressure can cause:

  • Blindness
  • Seizures
  • Brain damage
  • Death, in rare instances

In addition, facial deformities that affect the middle of your child’s face may cause:

  • Upper airway obstructions, compromising your baby’s ability to breathe
  • Permanent head deformity
  • Problems with speech and language development
  • Poor self-esteem

Diagnosing Craniosynostosis

Craniosynostosis is usually diagnosed using:

  • Physical examination – The doctor will feel the baby’s head for noticeable deformities or abnormalities, including suture ridges and facial deformations.
  • Imaging Tests – A computerized tomography (CT) scan may be helpful in showing any premature fusion (joining) of cranial sutures. X-ray tests are also helpful in measuring the precise dimensions of the baby’s skull, using the advanced cephalometry method.
  • Genetic Test – This test is helpful in determining if the condition is being caused by a hereditary factor.

Craniosynostosis Treatment procedures

Mild cases of craniosynostosis — those involving only a single suture with no other underlying condition — may require no treatment. Skull abnormalities may become less obvious as the baby grows and develops hair. Or the doctor may recommend a specially molded helmet to help reshape your baby’s head and allow room for your baby’s brain growth.

Surgery

For most babies, however, surgery is the primary treatment for craniosynostosis. The type and timing of surgery depend on the type of craniosynostosis and whether there’s an underlying syndrome that needs treatment.

The purpose of surgery is to relieve pressure on the brain, create room for the brain to grow normally and improve your child’s appearance. A team that includes a specialist in surgery of the head and face (craniofacial surgeon) and a specialist in brain surgery (neurosurgeon) often performs the procedure.

  • Traditional surgery

The surgeon makes an incision in your baby’s scalp and cranial bones, and then reshapes the affected portion of the skull. Sometimes plates and screws, often made of material that is absorbed over time, are used to hold the bones in place. Surgery, which is performed during general anesthesia, usually takes hours.

After surgery, your baby remains in the hospital for at least three days. Some children may require a second surgery later because the craniosynostosis recurs. Also, children with facial deformities often require future surgeries to reshape their faces.

  • Endoscopic surgery

This less invasive form of surgery isn’t an option for everyone. But in certain cases, the surgeon may use a lighted tube (endoscope) inserted through one or two small scalp incisions over the affected suture. The surgeon then opens 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, often to one day after surgery.

If your baby has an underlying syndrome, your doctor may recommend regular follow-up visits after surgery to monitor head growth and check for increased intracranial pressure. Head growth will be routinely monitored at the post-treatment check-ups.

Choose IndianMedTrip for Efficient and Affordable Craniosynostosis

India is home to the world’s largest network of comprehensive global-class healthcare hospitals and clinics that are spread over all its major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, etc. These are highly-equipped multi-specialty healthcare centers with the most modern and advanced medical and surgical technology at their disposal. IndianMedTrip is well-connected to this vast healthcare network and ensures that every individual patient gets the most efficient and affordable craniosynostosis treatment in India.

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