Craniosynostosis

Alternative Names

Premature closure of sutures

Definition of Craniosynostosis

Craniosynostosis is a congenital (present at birth) defect that causes one or more sutures on a baby’s head to close earlier than normal. Sutures are connections that separate each individual skull bones. The early closing of a suture leads to an abnormally shaped head.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of craniosynostosis is unknown. Which suture is involved determines the abnormal shape of the head.

Signs and tests

The doctor will feel the infant’s head and perform a physical exam. A neurological exam would also help diagnose the condition. The following tests may be performed:

Treatment

The main treatment for craniosynostosis is surgery. Surgery is done while the baby is still an infant. The goals of surgery are:

Expectations (prognosis)

How well a person does depends on how many sutures are involved and whether other defects are present. Patients who have surgery usually do well, especially those whose condition is not associated with a genetic syndrome.

Review

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 11/2/2009

Skull of a newborn

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.