Craniosynostosis is the premature fusion of one or more of the sutures between the bone plates of the skull. The most frequent type of fusion is called sagittal synostosis. Other types of craniosynostosis include metopic synostosis, coronal synostosis, and lambdoid synostosis, as well as a combination of these conditions. This premature fusion causes problems with normal brain and skull growth. It also increases pressure inside the head and causes the skull or facial bones to become abnormally shaped. Prominent eyes can develop from the limited growth of the eye sockets when the front of the skull is involved, and close partnership with the eye doctors is part of the cleft and craniofacial team care offered at the University of Iowa. Later learning challenges can arise when repair is delayed, and developmental screening with our craniofacial speech therapists is offered in follow-up, along with consultation to learning experts if screening alerts our team to difficulties.

Open cranial vault repair for craniosynostosis

If an endoscopic approach cannot be taken for various reasons, we perform all open cranial vault craniosynostosis surgeries. We have a long history of performing current techniques with excellent results. Our surgical teams include neurosurgeons, head and neck surgeons, or plastic surgeons trained in craniofacial techniques. We also collaborate with pediatric anesthesiologists and pediatric intensivists to manage the needs of our pediatric patients before, during, and after surgery. We take a multidisciplinary approach to craniosynostosis and work closely with the extended cleft and craniofacial team, as needed.

Endoscopic and minimally invasive craniosynostosis

At UI Children’s Hospital, we offer an endoscopic and minimally invasive approach for the treatment of craniosynostosis for some children that present at a very young age. One or two small incisions, each smaller than one inch, are used to remove segments of bone and release the premature fusion of the bone plates at the suture. No plating or reshaping is performed. Prior to surgery, a custom molding helmet is made, which an infant wears after surgery up to age 1. The incisions are practically unnoticeable within weeks of the surgery and minimal to no hair loss is expected.