Craniosynostosis Program

The Craniosynostosis Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital treats patients that have been identified as potentially having a skull disorder called craniosynostosis.

In many cases an infant with a misshapen head may simply have positional plagiocephaly which is not known to affect brain growth or development. However, in some cases, a misshapen head is an indication of craniosynostosis

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The skull is formed by multiple different bones. The junctions between the bones are called sutures. Craniosynostosis occurs when one or more of the sutures closes early. Early suture closure can cause the skull to grow in an unusual shape. Sometimes, early suture closure can also restrict overall skull growth which may be harmful to the brain inside which is trying to grow. 

Although some craniosynostosis diagnoses can be made with an office examination alone, often imaging will be used to more closely examine the cranial sutures and confirm the diagnosis. Here at Nationwide Children’s we use a special CT scan that provides 3D views of the skull using an ultra-low radiation dose equal to that of only a few regular x-rays.

Our pediatric neurosurgeons are trained in treating children with craniosynostosis using some of the most advanced surgical techniques and equipment. Whenever possible, we conduct minimally invasive surgeries requiring only small incisions. Whether performing a traditional surgery or a minimally invasive procedure, our goal is to correct the shape of a child’s head and allow normal brain growth, all to deliver the best outcome for every child.


 

Our Team

Our Craniosynostosis Program team includes doctors, surgeons, nurse practitioners and support staff from different specialties who provide expert, individualized care for each child.

Annie Drapeau

Annie I. Drapeau

Annie I. Drapeau is a pediatric neurosurgeon and director of the Craniosynostosis Program. 

Our Clinic is located below

Outpatient Care Center

Outpatient Visit

What is Craniosynostosis?

The skull is formed by multiple different bones.  The junctions between the bones are called sutures.  Craniosynostosis occurs when one or more of the sutures closes early.  Early suture closure can cause the skull to grow in an unusual shape.  Sometimes, early suture closure can also restrict overall skull growth which may be harmful to the brain inside which is trying to grow.  

Left untreated, craniosynostosis can result in further cranial deformity and potentially an overall restriction in head growth, with secondary increased intracranial pressure. It can also lead to psychosocial issues as the child interacts with peers during development.

If my baby has an abnormally shaped head, does he or she have craniosynostosis?

Most of the time, a misshapen head is simply Positional Plagiocephaly, which is not known to affect brain growth or development and can be corrected without surgery.  This head shape deformation, typically of the back of the head, is caused by repeated pressure to the same area.  It usually develops when a child prefers to lay his or her head on the same spot.  Most often, the shape of a baby’s head can determine if the baby has positional plagiocephaly or the more serious condition of craniosynostosis.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Craniosynostosis?

The most apparent sign of craniosynostosis is typically an abnormally shaped head.  The soft spot may be open or closed.  Less common is a restriction of head growth with the measurements “falling off” the pediatrician’s growth curves.  This can lead to build-up of pressure inside the skull.  Signs of high pressure may include:
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy (very sleepy, difficult to wake)
  • Difficulty moving eyes up
  • Keeping eyes down all of the time (looks like the setting sun on the horizon)
  • Bulging and/or tense soft spot (when patient is upright and does not have respiratory infection)