Craniosynostosis is a medical condition that affects 1 in 2000 live births in the UK; around 350 children are born with this condition every year.
What is craniosynostosis?
At birth a baby’s skull is made up of bony ‘plates’ separated by ‘sutures’. The sutures eventually fuse or close so that the skull’s role as a protective shell for the brain is complete. This normally happens by the age of 20-24 months.
In Craniosynostosis this process of fusion happens much earlier than it is supposed to – in the womb before the baby is born. This can restrict the growth and development of the brain as there is literally no room for the brain to grow into. The most common form of Craniosynostosis is sagittal synostosis where the sagittal suture,located at the top of the head,fuses too early. Confusingly the resulting head shape looks very like Scaphocephaly,one of the presentations of Positional Plagiocephaly – the skull is long from front to back and narrow from ear to ear. If you run your hand along the top of the head, a ridge may be felt.
How is it treated?
The treatment for Craniosynostosis is surgery – to correct the shape of the head and allow for normal brain growth. Great Ormond Street Hospital is pioneering keyhole surgery as an alternative, less intrusive option than traditional endoscopic surgery. Post operatively helmets may be used to protect the baby’s skull while it heals and to help the head grow into a more normal shape – just as in the LOCband treatment for positional plagiocephaly. The London Orthotic Consultancy is providing bespoke helmets for those babies that have undergone this new procedure at Great Ormond Street Hospital.