is a birth defect of the brain characterized by the premature closure
of one or more of the fibrous joints
between the bones of the skull (called the
cranial sutures) before brain growth is complete. Closure of a single
The following Washington University pediatric neurosurgeon and pediatric plastic surgeon treat patients for craniosynostosis at St. Louis Children's Hospital.
Matthew D. Smyth, MD - Neurological Surgery
Craniofacial Surgery Program Co-director at St. Louis Children's Hospital
Albert S. Woo, MD - Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Chief of Pediatric Plastic Surgery at St. Louis Children's Hospital
FOR APPOINTMENTS OR INFORMATION CALL 314-454-2811
Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (CST).
In contrast to normal skull
growth, in which the skull expands uniformly to accommodate the growth
of the brain,
premature closure of a single suture
restricts the growth in that part of the skull and promotes growth in
other parts of
the skull where sutures remain open. This
results in an abnormal shape of the skull, but does not prevent the
brain from expanding
to a normal volume.
However, when many
sutures close prematurely, the skull cannot expand to accommodate the
which leads to increased pressure within
the skull and impaired development of the brain. Craniosynostosis can be
or caused by metabolic diseases, such as
rickets or an overactive thyroid.
Some cases are associated with other
such as microcephaly (abnormally small
head) and hydrocephalus (excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid
in the brain).
The first sign of craniosynostosis is an
abnormally shaped skull.
Other features can include signs of increased
pressure, developmental delays, or mental
retardation, which are caused by constriction of the growing brain.
blindness may also occur.
Craniosynostosis Treatment and Prognosis
Treatment for craniosynostosis
generally consists of surgery to improve the symmetry and appearance of
the head and to relieve
pressure on the brain and the
cranial nerves. Surgery should allow the brain adequate space to grow and develop if there is no underlying brain abnormality.
For some children with less severe problems, cranial
molds can reshape the skull
to accommodate brain growth and
improve the appearance of the head.
Information Courtesy of National Institutes for Health web site at Nih.gov
The prognosis for
craniosynostosis varies depending on whether single or multiple cranial
sutures are involved or other abnormalities
are present. The prognosis is
better for those with single suture involvement and no associated
Read more about craniosynostosis on the St. Louis Children's Hospital web page.
Other web resources on craniosynotosis: