As an esteemed oral and maxillofacial surgeon who participates with the Cleft and Craniofacial Team at the Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, Dr. James is sought out by families facing the prospect of vault remodeling and other craniofacial surgeries. Our staff understands the complex nature of surgical care, and we are mindful to provide our patients (families included) with the compassion and communication they need to feel secure as surgery approaches.
One of the biggest questions that may form early on in the process of care is whether or not surgery is necessary. In the instance of craniosynostosis, the answer may more often be yes.
What is Craniosynostosis?
This congenital anomaly occurs when the sutures, or seams, located throughout the skull, close too early. Perhaps only one or a few sutures close, but the result is some degree of distortion in head shape. It is important that a child be able to develop with a head shape that will promote confidence. More importantly, though, craniosynostosis may also cause pressure to build up inside the skull.
There are several types of craniosynostosis, some more common than others. Our surgical team has extensive experience in treating all types. The first step is recognizing the symptoms of this condition. The abnormal head shape may be evident at birth, usually when other craniofacial anomalies exist. In some cases, the head may appear more misshapen as a child develops. This is due to normal growth across “open” sutures, and lack of growth where sutures have closed.
The Question of Helmet Therapy
Helmet therapy is often prescribed following vault remodeling for craniosynostosis, and therefore there may be a misperception that helmet therapy might be a suitable alternative for surgery. The helmets used to remodel the cranial bones have a foam lining inside of a hard, outer shell. The shape of the helmet places consistent but gentle pressure that invites natural growth in one or more areas while inhibiting it in others. This method allows flat regions to catch up to those that have normally grown, as the helmet is continually adjusted to facilitate overall development. Because fusion of the sutures of the skull affect the head and face, and may also be placing pressure on the developing brain, surgical refinement of the cranial bones is necessary before helmet therapy.
Get the information you need about cranial vault remodeling. Call our office near NOLA at (504) 378-2030.