Craniosynostosis

Human skull provides a cavity and support system for the brain structure and is composed of many bones that are joined together through fibrous joints called sutures. At the time of birth, in an infant, these bones are not fused together because the skull needs to expand as brain develops with developing age of the infant. The sutures allow the bones of brain to be flexible enough to move as the brain grows larger. Within few years, when the brain is fully grown, all the sutures close up and bones fuse together to form a solid skull. In some infants, one or some of the suture are already closed at the time of birth. This premature fusion of bones in the skull is termed as Craniosynostosis.

Closure of a single suture does not allow the skull to expand from that specific area, but, to provide enough intracranial space for the growing brain, skull expands from some other portion resulting in an abnormally shaped head. Closure of multiple sutures causes increase in intracranial pressure, resulting in certain neurological disorders along with non-symmetrical head shape.

The initial visible symptom of craniosynostosis in your child may show at infancy in the form of abnormally or irregularly shaped head and face and absence of fontanel (non-bony areas of skull that are covered by tough membranes, also called soft spots). If craniosynostosis affects multiple sutures, it increases the intracranial pressure and causes 

  • Sleepiness 

  • Scalp veins that may be very noticeable

  • Increased irritability

  • High-pitched cry

  • Poor feeding

  • Projectile vomiting

  • Increasing head circumference

  • Seizures

  • Bulging eyes and an inability of the child to look upward with the head facing forward

  • Developmental delays​

If you notice that growth of head and/or face in your infant are non-symmetrical and some of the above symptoms are also apparent, then you should consult one of our doctors at the Mind and Brain Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started​

A paediatrician will take medical history of you and your child to determine if the disorder could be genital or caused by some other disease. He shall also carry a physical examination of your child to identify the symptoms and measure the circumference of his head to identify the exact locations of abnormal growth in the skull. Diagnosis shall further be carried out through tests like:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): In this test, use of a magnetic field and radio wave pulses help take pictures of structures inside the body, including your child’s brain.

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: The CT scan allows earlier detection of problems with the brain structure. 

If the head of your child is growing non-proportionally, and none of the other symptoms of craniosynostosis are apparent, then there is a higher possibility that your child is not suffering from this disorder. But, he has been mostly lying on any one side of the head. For treating such problems, cranial moulds or helmets are used to bring the skull back in proper shape.

The best treatment for your child suffering from craniosynostosis is surgery. Selection of surgery shall be done by considering the age of your child, type of craniosynostosis, and the extent of damage occurred to the cranial bones, nerves and the brain. The best age for operating your child is between three to eight months because in this time period, bones are soft and easy to be operated on and the child becomes capable of dealing with any blood loss. 

Surgery is carried out in order to treat any disfigured portions of the face and head and to relieve the developed pressure inside the skull. Anyone from the following surgeries will be selected for your child.

  • Traditional Surgery: An incision is made into the cranial bones to treat the area affected by craniosynostosis. Sometimes plates and screws made of special materials are used to hold the bones in place.

  • Endoscopic Surgery: An incision is made in the head over the suture(s) that have been affected and an endoscope is passed through it and the closed suture is opened. 

Please click here for some guidelines on what to do before your surgery. ​

Please click here for some guidelines on what to do on the day of your surgery. ​

Your child may face some complications after the surgery but the compassionate doctors working with the Mind and Brain Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital will provide you guidelines and health care facilities which will enable your child to recover in a short time period. 

Complications may include:

  • Vomiting

  • Headache

  • Fever

  • Increased irritability

  • Redness and swelling along the incision areas

  • Decreased alertness

  • Fatigue

Please click here for some guidelines on what to do on after your surgery. ​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

 The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

 The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage




The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.