Important Information About Cranial Stenosis
Cranial Stenosis, or Craniosynostosis as it is now called, is a disorder that affects newborn babies and infants. It’s a very serious disorder, but thankfully treatments have been around for over 100 years to remedy the problem. For information regarding this medical problem, read further as this article was written to inform the layman about this problem in the hopes of preparing new parents for this possibility.
What IS Cranial Stenosis?
Cranial Stenosis is the condition where a newborn baby’s skull bones become fused together. Generally what happens in a normal skull is that the bones have pliable, stretchy “sutures” of cartilage and tissue that can grow and adapt to a baby’s rapidly growing brain. When they become fused, they cannot adjust to brain growth and this can lead to serious problems involving an abnormally shaped cranium, pressure on the brain, and even blindness in some cases.
There are four distinct forms of Craniosynostosis. Coronal, Lambdoidal, Metopic, and Sagittal Craniosynostosis are named for the different cranial sutures that are involved. In some cases, even more than one suture can be involved, having fused. Most babies, however, suffer from Sagittal Craniosynostosis, the most popular type by far.
Common Treatment for Cranial Stenosis
Treatment for this medical condition began as far back as the 1890s. Since then, there have been multiple types of procedures developed as treatment. Today, surgical craniofacial teams work together to perform necessary procedures to correct the Craniosynostosis and all of the associated deformities that develop because of it.
A traditional form of the necessary operation is to make a very precise scalp incision that stretches from ear to ear. This mobilizes the scalp, allowing an exposure of the baby’s skull. From there, the skull (whole or partial) can be removed. While a frightening prospect, this is absolutely necessary in order to reshape the cranial bones. The skull is then put back into place, and the scalp is immobilized once again.
This surgery understandably takes several hours to complete, usually ranging from 3 – 7, depending on any complications or additional fusions that may have taken place. Blood transfusions are common practice because of the procedure, and hospitalization for up to a week is common as well. There will be an understandable amount of pain involved following the procedure, as well as some intense and extensive post-operative swelling due to the invasive nature of the surgery.
Cutting Edge Technology
Due to the extreme side effects and discomfort that the young patient must go through, many doctors began to research alternative ways to deal with Cranial Stenosis that are as effective, but not as invasive. Years of research and technological advances have led to custom-designed and fitted cranial helmets. With minimally invasive surgery, specialists are able to relieve pressure and allow the helmets to do the reshaping, instead of going in and actually removing parts of or the entire skull. Another bonus to this is the fact that this can be done while the child is still a baby, before the skull gets fully calcified.
This also helps to alleviate an overwhelming portion of the aftercare that traditional surgery required. In years past, the child would need to go to long term checkups. They would need to constantly monitor the child for signs of neurological problems, blindness, and other issues involving the brain functions and growth.
If you have been told that your baby suffers from Cranial Stenosis, it is your responsibility to educate yourself about this condition. Know that there are several options to choose from in regards to treatment. Do not be afraid to ask the tough questions. Keeping yourself and your spouse involved and informed will make the process much more bearable for the entire family.