A newborn’s skull contains fibrous joints called sutures. The premature fusing of the sutures is known as craniosynostosis /krā-nē-ō-ˌsi-ˌnä-ˈstō-səs/. As a baby descends the birth canal the sutures allow the skull to flex. The flexing keeping pressure off the brain. After birth, the sutures facilitate normal brain growth. Around the age of 24 months the sutures fuse and become bone.
The Cranial Sutures
There are four cranial sutures.
- Coronal-Extends from ear to ear crossing the top of the skull horizontally.
- Lamboid-Shaped like an inverted V this suture runs from side to side across the back of the skull.
- Metopic-Forms at the bridge of the nose and travels vertically across the top of the skull intersecting with the sagittal suture.
- Sagittal-Proceeds vertically across the top of the skull intersecting with the arch of the lamboid suture.
Each form of Craniosynostosis bears the name of the suture that hardened prematurely. Coronal Craniosynostosis is if the craniosynostosis affects one side of the coronal suture the forehead will be level on one side and protruding on the other. The nose will be skewed with one eye higher than the other. A bicoronal fusing means both sides of the coronal sutures have fused. This condition will be marked by a forehead that slants forward and a head that is squat with a larger than normal diameter.
Metopic Craniosynostosis is also known as trigonocephaly the forehead of a baby with metopic craniosynostosis will take on a triangular configuration and the back of the head will be wider than normal. Lamboid Craniosynostosis is where the top of the head looks level and slanted sideways. The ears will be misaligned with one being lower than the other.
Consequences of Craniosynostosis
Without treatment, craniosynostosis will leave a child with a malformed head and face. The malformity can lead to psychological issues including a poor self-image and social alienation. Complex craniosynostosis is excess intracranial pressure caused by the skull not being flexible enough to expand with the growth of the brain. This can result in intellectual disabilities, unnatural movement of the eyes, and blindness. The individual may suffer seizures and although it is uncommon death.
Craniosynostosis is treatable. If for example, you enter something like craniosynostosis nyc into a search engine you will find multiple hospitals that treat the condition. For less serious cases the child wearing a specially fitted helmet can reconfigure the skull and allow the brain to grow normally. In most cases a surgical correction is necessary.
Prior to the age of six months, endoscopic surgery may be an option. This allows the surgeon to open the suture through a tube inserted into small incisions. After the age of 6 months, open surgery is necessary. After the surgeon reconfigures the malformed section of the skull the cranial bones are held in place with plates and screws.