In the simplest forms of single suture synostosis, in an infant younger than three or four months of age, minimally invasive endoscopic surgery may be an option. An endoscope is a long tube that fits through tiny incisions — an attached light and camera allow a surgeon to see inside the body without having to make a large incision.
Neurosurgeons and Plastic Surgeons: Learn how to perform open and endoscopic corrective surgeries for craniosynostosis at our annual CME course. Visit our CME page for more information
Although the results are excellent with either corrective form of surgical treatment (traditional cranial vault vs. endoscopic repair), there are many advantages to the minimally invasive approach:
The minimally invasive approach is best on younger infants (typically less than four months of age), since the rapid brain growth of early infancy helps reposition the cranial bones after surgery. The soft, malleable skull of a very young baby also makes it easier for a surgeon to remove the fused suture using only small incisions. After three or four months of rapid growth, a baby’s skull starts to get thicker and less malleable, making endoscopic bone removal more difficult. Although all patients are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, younger babies are generally considered better candidates for endoscopic surgery and older babies usually undergo an open cranial vault approach.
Watch this brief video to learn more about the endoscopic suturectomy for craniosynostosis:
After the Surgery
After surgery, it is normal for a child to look swollen for the first few days. A baby may also be a little fussy with feeding after surgery, but this usually resolves quickly in the comfort of home.
After 10 to 14 days, we will see your child in our office for a post-operative follow-up visit. At that point, the child will be custom fitted by an orthotist for a cranial remodeling helmet, which will help reshape the skull. The helmet needs to be worn for 21 to 23 hours a day until the child reaches 9 to 12 months of age. (Although the baby’s head shape is corrected within the first three or four months after surgery, the skull shape can regress if helmet therapy is discontinued too early.) Your child will have no special precautions or significant limitations on activities during this time.
The orthotist and surgical team will work together to determine when helmet therapy is complete.
Reviewed by: Caitlin Hoffman, M.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: June 2023