Treatments for Craniosynostosis in Children

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Contact the Cleft and Craniofacial Center

Boston Children's Hospital has been a worldwide innovator in diagnosing and treating children with craniosynostosis for decades. Clinicians in our Departments of Neurosurgery and Plastic Surgery have extensive experience in treating children, adolescents and adults with all forms of the condition, and can even diagnose craniosynostosis in many cases. 

And we always use minimally invasive techniques—medical and surgical procedures that use small incisions and miniaturized cameras and tools—whenever we can.

Surgery

Most children with craniosynostosis will require surgical intervention. 

Surgery for craniosynostosis:

  • is designed to reduce intracranial pressure and correct deformities in the facial and skull bones
  • often works best in children who are less than 1 year old, since the bones are still soft and pliable, making them easier to manipulate
  • may be recommended in much younger infants, including newborns, depending on the severity of their symptoms
  • can also be performed in older children (although the older the child, the more complex the surgery)
  • may need to be repeated over time, depending on the seriousness of the condition, as the child continues to grow 

Before the operation, your child's surgeon will:

  • explain the reasons to consider surgery
  • explain the different types of surgery and if your child is a candidate for the minimally invasive surgery
  • explain the steps involved in the operation
  • review aftercare instructions, including warning signs of possible complications 

During surgery, the surgeon and treatment team will:

  • in the case of minimally invasive surgery, release the sutures that are abnormally fused
  • in the case of reconstructive surgery, reposition the skull bones to allow for normal growth and development 

Monitoring and follow-up

After surgery, your child:

  • will stay in the hospital for  one to five days
  • may have visible swelling for a few days to a few weeks
  • may need to wear a dressing covering her head, protecting the incision site from contamination and infection
  • will need to return for check-ups and evaluations to measure how well the skull, facial bones and brain are developing

Coping and support

When your child has craniosynostosis, your family may have many concerns and questions. Not only are you focused on meeting all of your child's medical needs; you are also grappling with a significant emotional and psychological toll that can affect every member of the family.

In addition to the clinical information offered on this page, Boston Children's has several other resources designed to give your family comfort, support and guidance:
 

Patient and family resources at Boston Children's

Boston Children's Behavioral Medicine Clinic helps children who are being treated on an outpatient basis at the hospital—as well as their families—understand and cope with their feelings about:

  • being sick
  • facing uncomfortable procedures
  • handling pain
  • taking medication
  • preparing for surgery
  • changes in friendships and family relationships
  • managing school while dealing with an illness
  • grief and loss


The Experience Journal
was designed by Boston Children's psychiatrist-in-chief David DeMaso, MD and members of his team. This online collection features thoughts, reflections and advice from kids and caregivers about living with medical conditions and going through treatment.

Boston Children's Psychiatry Consultation Service is comprised of expert and compassionate pediatric psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and other mental health professionals who understand the unique circumstances of hospitalized children and their families. The team provides several services, including:

  • short-term therapy for children admitted to one of our inpatient units
  • parent and sibling consultations
  • teaching healthy coping skills for the whole family
  • educating members of the medical treatment team about the relationship between physical illness and psychological distress

Boston Children's Center for Families is dedicated to helping families locate the information and resources they need to better understand their child's particular condition and take part in their care. All patients, families and health professionals are welcome to use the Center's services at no extra cost. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Please call 617-355-6279 for more information.

The Boston Children's chaplaincy is a source of spiritual support for parents and family members. Our program includes nearly a dozen clergy members—representing Episcopal, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Unitarian and United Church of Christ traditions—who will listen to you, pray with you and help you observe your own faith practices during your child's treatment.

Boston Children's International Center is a dedicated resource for patients and families from countries outside the United States. The center can provide assistance with everything from reviewing medical records to setting up appointments and locating lodging. Contact the center by phone at 01-617-355-5209 or via e-mail at international.center@childrens.harvard.edu.

Helpful links

Please note that neither Boston Children's Hospital nor the Craniofacial Anomalies Program at Children's unreservedly endorse all of the information found at the sites listed below. These links are provided as a resource.

General information for Boston Children's patients and families
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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