A New Endoscopic Technique For Treating
Craniosynostosis Leads To Quicker Patient Recovery

Originally published Spring 2002

Endoscopic technology now allows the neurosurgeons at Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates to greatly reduce recovery time for patients undergoing treatment for craniosynostosis. With this condition, one or more of the fibrous sutures that hold together the bones in a baby’s skull cap closes prematurely. These sutures normally remain open as long as the brain is expanding to allow growth in all directions. If even one suture closes before it is supposed to, the baby’s brain will grow in the direction of least resistance, resulting in a misshapen skull or face. This can happen before the baby is born or in the first few months of life.

Diagnosis Of Craniosynostosis
A suspected diagnosis of craniosynostosis is confirmed by X-rays. A CT scan is also performed to ensure there are no underlying abnormalities in the brain. The child must also be evaluated for any signs of increased intracranial pressure due to restricted skull growth. The next step is to restore the normal shape and relationship of the forehead and orbital rims.

Endoscopic Strip Craniectomy Incision

Before Endoscopic Technology
Traditional craniosynostosis surgery involves an incision or opening in the skull behind the hairline so that afterwards the scar is covered by the hair. The bone in the area of the defect is reshaped or replaced with bone from another area of the skull. The surgery is usually very successful, however, a blood transfusion is often necessary and the child must stay in the hospital for up to four days.

A New Solution

Pediatric neurosurgeons at Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates now utilize a new endoscopic technique for surgical management of craniosynostosis. With endoscopic strip craniectomy, a child’s closed suture in the skull is removed using only one or two incisions, each about one inch in length. Because the incisions are so small, there is less need for a blood transfusion, and the baby usually goes home after only two or three days. This procedure must be performed prior to six months of age. Pediatric craniofacial plastic surgeons often assist with this technique. After surgery, cranial banding is utilized to assist in reshaping craniofacial contours so the head will grow in a normal direction.

“This endoscopic surgery is a much less invasive technique and is very effective,” said practice neurosurgeon Michael D. Heafner, M.D. “There’s much shorter recovery time for the child which makes it less stressful for parents and family.”

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