Management of Craniosynostosis

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Craniosynostosis, or the premature closure of calvarial sutures, results in deformed calvaria at birth. Although the etiology of craniosynostosis is currently unknown, animal experiments and a recent interest in molecular biology point toward interplay between the dura and the underlying brain. This interaction occurs by means of a local alteration in the expression of transforming growth factor, MSX2, fibroblast growth factor receptor, and TWIST. The fused suture restricts growth of the calvaria, thus leading to a characteristic deformation, each associated with a different type of craniosynostosis. Uncorrected craniosynostosis leads to a continuing progression of the deformity, and in some cases, an elevation of intracranial pressure. Clinical examination should include not only an examination of the skull but also a general examination to rule out the craniofacial syndromes that accompany craniosynostosis. Because deformational plagiocephaly, or plagiocephaly without synostosis, occurs secondary to sleeping in the supine position during the early perinatal period, the physician should be aware of this abnormality. Treatment for deformational plagiocephaly is conservative when compared with treatment for craniosynostosis, which requires surgery. Appropriate investigations should include genetic screening, radiologic examination with a computerized tomographic scan, and neurodevelopmental analysis. Surgical intervention should be performed during infancy, preferably in the first 6 months of postnatal life, to prevent the further progression of the deformity and possible complications associated with increased intracranial pressure. The principles of surgical intervention are not only to excise the fused suture but also to attempt to normalize the calvarial shape. Longterm follow-up is critical to determine the effect of the surgical outcome. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 111: 2032, 2003.)

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