Understanding the different types of craniosynostosis

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The different types of craniosynostosis, explained

The different types of craniosynostosis, explained

Craniosynostosis is a rare condition characterised by the premature fusion of cranial sutures in babies, leading to abnormal skull growth. It’s important to recognise that there are several types of craniosynostosis, each with unique symptoms and treatment approaches. This blog gives a straightforward overview of the different types of craniosynostosis, their typical symptoms and treatment.


  1. Sagittal craniosynostosis

Sagittal craniosynostosis accounts for nearly half of all craniosynostosis cases and is the most common type. Babies with this condition often have a long and narrow skull shape, along with a prominent forehead. A raised or ridged ridge may be present along the midline of the skull. Treatment usually involves surgery to release the fused suture and reshape the skull.

  1. Coronal craniosynostosis

Coronal craniosynostosis affects one or both coronal sutures, leading to a flattened or asymmetrical appearance of the forehead and skull. Bulging of the eye socket on the affected side may also be observed. Surgical intervention is typically required to correct the fusion and restore normal skull growth.

  1. Metopic craniosynostosis

Metopic craniosynostosis involves the premature fusion of the metopic suture, which extends from the fontanel (soft spot) at the top of the forehead down to the nasal bridge. Babies with metopic craniosynostosis may exhibit a pointed or triangular skull shape, along with a narrow forehead and a ridge running down the middle. Surgical correction is usually recommended to allow for proper skull development.

  1. Lambdoid craniosynostosis

Lambdoid craniosynostosis is the least common type, occurring when the lambdoid suture at the back of the skull fuses prematurely. This condition can cause flattening or asymmetry on the affected side of the head. Surgery is typically performed to release the fused suture and promote balanced skull growth.

  1. Multiple suture craniosynostosis

In some cases, infants may experience craniosynostosis involving multiple sutures. This condition requires careful evaluation and often necessitates a comprehensive treatment plan involving surgical intervention to address the fused sutures.


What surgeries are used to treat craniosynostosis?

In most craniosynostosis cases, treatment is necessary to ensure optimal skull development and prevent potential complications. Surgical intervention is often recommended to release the fused sutures and reshape the skull. 

Traditionally, treatment for craniosynostosis involves open cranial vault reconstruction surgery to reshape the bones of the skull. This requires removing the bones of the cranium to remodel them. Most patients require a blood transfusion and some recovery time in hospital.

Surgical advancements led to surgeons developing a less invasive option. With an endoscopic strip craniectomy, the surgeon makes two small incisions and uses a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope to release fused sutures in the skull. With this method, the cranial bones stay attached to the outer covering of the brain, and are not manually reshaped like in a cranial vault reconstruction surgery. Instead, a post-operative cranial remoulding helmet is often prescribed. The baby will wear this helmet for 23 hours a day for several months as prescribed, to gradually reshape the skull and allow for normal brain growth.

With this less invasive surgery, there is less risk of blood loss, and babies can often be discharged after just a single night in hospital.


The role of helmets in craniosynostosis treatment

While surgery is an effective treatment option, post-operative care plays a crucial role in promoting optimal outcomes. One such post-surgical intervention is the use of cranial helmets, specifically designed for babies who have undergone an endoscopic strip craniectomy.

These helmets are custom-made to provide support and promote proper skull growth, helping to shape the head and achieve a more balanced appearance. You can Read blog about the benefits of post-operative cranial helmets in our recent blog.


What is it like as a family to go through your baby’s craniosynostosis treatment?

After his diagnosis with craniosynostosis, Arthur had an endoscopic strip craniectomy, followed by 12 months with a cranial remoulding orthotic.  

One brave mother, Daisie, has shared her story of her son Arthur’s journey with craniosynostosis on BBC Sounds, in hopes of raising awareness for the condition and shedding light on the role that Technology in Motion’s TiMBandAir helmet has played in transforming Arthur’s life.

Listen to Arthur’s story on BBC Sounds.


What to do if you’re worried about your baby’s head shape

Often parents spot that their baby’s head shape is unusual, but are not sure what it means or what to do next. Technology in Motion offers a free pre-assessment, where out experts can take a look at your baby’s head. Whilst our clinicians cannot medically diagnose craniosynostosis or provide surgical treatment, we can recognise and advise upon various types of head deformities, and provide post-surgical orthotics for babies who have had an endoscopic strip craniectomy.

We are partnered with the UK’s 4 craniofacial specialist treatment centres. These are Great Ormond Street Hospital, Alder Hay Children’s Hospital, Birmingham NHS Hospital and Children’s Trust, and the Oxford Craniofacial Unit Team. These units refer patients to us after diagnosis and surgery to provide post-operative helmets and ongoing monitoring and treatment.


Early intervention and ongoing medical care are crucial to ensure the best possible outcomes for children with craniosynostosis. If you suspect your child may have craniosynostosis, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide an accurate diagnosis and guide you through the appropriate treatment options. Contact us for more information or to speak to one of our clinicians. 


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