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Sagittal synostosis is the premature closing of the sagittal suture in infants. The sagittal suture is the soft spot on the top of a baby’s head, between the left and right sides of the skull. When this part closes, growth of the baby’s head from the sides is made impossible. The head can only grow from front to back, which results in a narrow, elongated head that grows into an oblong shape.
Sagittal synostosis is a very rare condition, and it affects about one in 6,000 infants. The odds of the condition being hereditary are between two and six in 100. Sagittal synostosis surgery can be performed to correct the condition, during which a strip of bone is taken off the top of the skull, leaving room for the bone to grow in properly. Sagittal synostosis repair can also involve reshaping the skull, in which the forehead is tilted back and the skull’s dimension shortened. The bones are then secured with wires, while gaps between the bones purposely remain free to avoid growth restriction.
Sagittal synostosis scaphocephaly is a medical term that refers to the unnatural growth from the bulging at the front and back of the baby’s head. It is called a scaphocephaly because of the boat shape that the skull retains as a result. Sagittal suture synostosis is the most common type of sagittal craniosynostosis. Babies who develop sagittal synostosis are found to be just as intelligent as those who are never diagnosed with it, although social and emotional problems may result because of the unnatural features they maintained as infants.
Sagittal cranial synostosis is not a fatal disease, and surgery or reshaping methods usually correct the problem with minimal risk to the baby. If the child is born with other medical conditions or closed sutures, there is a greater chance for complications and health problems. These can include increased blood pressure and decreased blood flow to the brain.
A possible complication of sagittal synostosis surgery is compound synostosis. This involves the closing of more sutures during surgery and a strong pressure on some of the baby’s body parts, which can adversely affect the infant’s breathing, hearing and vision. After surgery, bandages and tubes will need to remain covering the baby’s head for a few weeks until he or she recovers. The baby may become scared and confused during the procedure, so bringing familiar toys or distractions is a good idea.