The main treatment for craniosynostosis is surgery to improve the way your child's head looks, relieve pressure in the skull and make sure there is enough room in the skull for the brain to grow.
Surgery for Craniosynostosis
Surgery to correct craniosynostosis involves reshaping your child's skull.
Often, this means open surgery. Some babies may have a minimally invasive procedure instead, called endoscopic strip craniectomy.
The neurosurgeon makes a cut (incision) across the top of the head. (Usually, the scar is covered completely by your child's hair within months of the surgery.) Then the neurosurgeon and a plastic surgeon work together to reshape the skull.
The neurosurgeon on the team removes the affected suture. Then, the craniofacial plastic surgeon shapes the skull bones into a more normal shape. The new shape is held together by plates and screws while the bone heals. The plates and screws are made of a special material that breaks down and dissolves completely in one or two years.
If your baby has simple (single-suture) craniosynostosis, they may need only one surgery. Children with craniofacial syndromes that cause craniosynostosis often need more than one operation to fix the problem.
After the operation, your baby will probably stay in the intensive care unit for one to three nights before moving to the regular hospital room. Babies usually stay in the hospital three to five days.
If the sagittal suture is the only suture that needs repair, surgery takes place when your baby is less than 4 months old. If other sutures need repair, we operate when your baby is 6 to 12 months old.
Endoscopic strip craniectomy
Your baby may have another option if only their sagittal or lambdoid suture is fused. This option involves taking out a strip of bone along the top of the skull through small incisions. After the surgery, your baby wears a helmet for at least three months to mold their head to a more normal shape.
Some families prefer this choice instead of open surgery. It may mean:
- Less scarring
- Less bleeding, so less chance of a blood transfusion
- Less time in surgery
- Shorter hospital stay
Read more about endoscopic strip craniectomy.
Watch Videos on Treatment Options for Craniosynostosis
Craniosynostosis: What to Expect on Surgery Day
Learn what to expect on your child’s craniofacial surgery day, including what you can bring along.
Craniosynostosis: Treatment Options for Sagittal Synostosis
Dr. Richard Hopper shares information on two treatment options for sagittal synostosis. Learn more about open cranial remodeling and endoscopic release and how the Craniofacial team at Seattle Children’s partners with families to make the choice that is best for your baby.
Craniosynostosis: Treatment Options for Metopic and Unilateral Coronal Synostosis
Dr. Richard Hopper explains treatment options for metopic and unilateral coronal synostosis. These procedures combine the expertise of a pediatric plastic surgeon trained in craniofacial surgery and a pediatric neurosurgeon.