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Craniosynostosis: types, causes and treatment

Craniosynostosis: types, causes and treatment

March 28, 2024

It is known that when we are born, the bones of our head are not completely formed . Thanks to this, the baby's head is able to pass through the birth canal, which would otherwise be too narrow. After delivery, the bones of the skull become hardened and welded little by little, slowly enough to allow growth of the child's brain and head.

However, sometimes said suture occurs at a very early stage of development, causing alterations that can have severe consequences. This early suture is called craniosynostosis .

  • Maybe you're interested: "Macrocephaly: causes, symptoms and treatment"

The skull: bones and sutures

The human skull, if we understand as such the bone coverage of the brain (without counting other facial bones such as those of the jaw) is made up of a set of eight bones: frontal, two temporal, two parietal, occipital, sphenoid and ethmoid.

This set of bones are not completely united from birth, but they are soldering little by little as we develop. The unions between these bones, initially formed by connective tissue, although throughout our lives they are ossified, are the so-called sutures and fontanelles. In the cranial vault, the points where several bones meet are called fontanelles , equally important.

Among the multiple sutures we have (a total of thirty-seven), we can highlight the lamboid joining parietal and occipital, the metopic joining the two parts of the frontal, the coronal that allows frontal and parietal overlap and the sagittal that allows that the two parietals meet.

As we said, the bones of the skull are sutured and welded throughout our development , but sometimes this union occurs early.


Craniosynostosis is understood as the defect or congenital malformation in which some or all of the skull bones of the newborn are welded earlier than normal . While sutures usually close around three years of age, in babies born with this malformation the closure can occur in the first months.

Is early suture of the skull bones It can have serious effects on the child's development. The skull does not develop as it should and malformations appear in its structure, also altering the normative development of the brain. In addition, it causes an increase in intracranial pressure as the brain tries to grow, which can have serious consequences. It is not uncommon for microcephaly to occur and for different brain structures to develop correctly. Hydrocephalus is also common.

The effects that this malformation causes They can vary greatly, and can range from not presenting obvious symptoms to the death of the child. It is common for patients with craniosynostosis to suffer developmental delays, intellectual disability, continued headaches, disorientation and incoordination, motor problems that can lead to seizures or sensory disabilities if they do not receive treatment. Also nausea, lack of energy, dizziness and some symptoms typical of depression such as apathy are frequent.

In addition, other structures and facial organs may also be compromised, such as the eyes, respiratory tract or the bucco-organism, due to morphological alterations. This can lead to blindness or deafness , in addition to breathing difficulties, swallowing and communicating.

In short, it is a disorder that can cause severe problems for the child and its proper development. That is why it is recommended to seek an early treatment that prevents bone alterations generate difficulties at the level of encephalon.

Types of craniosynostosis

Depending on the bones that are sutured prematurely, we can find different types of craniosynostosis. Some of the best known and common are the following.

1. Scaphocephaly

The most frequent type of craniosynostosis. It occurs when the sagittal suture closes early.

2. Plagiocephaly

This type of craniosynostosis is the one that occurs when the coronal suture closes prematurely. It is the most frequent after scaphocephaly . It may appear that the forehead stops growing. It can appear bilaterally or only in one of the frontoparietal sutures.

3. Trigonocephaly

The metopic suture closes early. So the frontal bones close too soon. Usually causes hypotelorism, or eyes together .

4. Brachycephaly

The coronal sutures close early.

5. Oxicephaly

Is considered the most complex and severe type of craniosynostosis . In this case all or almost all sutures appear closed early, preventing the skull from expanding.

Possible causes

Craniosynostosis is a disorder of congenital type whose causes are not clear in most cases. It happens in general in a way without precedents in the same family. It is suspected that genetic and environmental factors combine .

However, in many other cases this problem has been associated with different syndromes and disorders in which it appears linked to genetic mutations that may or may not be inherited. An example of this is found in the Crouzon syndrome.


The treatment of craniosynostosis is performed by surgery . The surgical procedure should be performed before the subject reaches one year of age because later the bones will harden and there will be more difficulties to correct the malformations.

It is not an intervention that is carried out solely for aesthetics, but because of the complications that can cause the early closure of the bones of the skull. Failing to operate the brain would have difficulties to develop normally , and during this development an intracranial pressure level would be reached that could be dangerous. However, an early intervention can cause brain and bone development to be normative and not cause alterations in the child's life.

Bibliographic references:

  • Hoyos, M. (2014). Crouzon syndrome. Rev. Act. Clin. Med .: 46. La Paz.
  • Kinsman, S.L .; Johnston, M.V. (2016). Craniosynostosis In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.

What is Craniosynostosis? (March 2024).

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