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Craniosynostosis - Topic Overview

How is craniosynostosis diagnosed?

You or your doctor may notice that your baby has an odd-shaped head at birth, shortly after birth, or later at a well-child checkup.

Just because your baby has an oddly shaped head doesn't mean that he or she has craniosynostosis. Head shape may be affected by how your baby was positioned in your uterus, the birth process, or your baby's sleep position. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about the shape of your baby's head.

Your doctor will:

  • Look at each side of your baby's face and head.
  • Measure your baby's head.
  • Feel the sutures and soft spots (fontanelles) on the skull.
  • Feel the top and sides of the head, where sutures are located, for unusual ridges or bumps.

Your baby's doctor may also order a skull X-ray, CT scan, or MRl.

How is it treated?

Surgery is the usual treatment to correct craniosynostosis. It's usually done in the first year of life. The surgeon removes strips of bone in the skull to create artificial sutures. This surgery prevents or relieves pressure on the brain and allows the skull to expand normally. It also corrects the shape of your baby's head.

The earlier your child has surgery, the better the results. If there is pressure on the brain, your child needs surgery right away. If your baby doesn't seem to have pressure on the brain, your doctor may advise you to wait and see if the head shape returns to normal without surgery. Your child may wear a special helmet or other device to help reshape the skull. But your child may still need surgery later.

If your child needs surgery, talk with your doctor about what to expect. It may help to see some before-and-after pictures of other children who have had the same type of surgery so that you are prepared for how your child will look right after the surgery. There may be a lot of swelling and bruising at first.

Being involved in your baby's care while he or she is in the hospital may help you feel more comfortable when you take your baby home. You'll need to know how to care for your baby's incision and what problems to watch for. Problems after surgery aren't common.

It's normal to feel a wide range of emotions when your child has a problem like craniosynostosis. Counseling or a support group can help.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 11, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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