Scaphocephaly (or dolichocephaly) is also called sagittal synostosis. It is the most common type of craniosynostosis, which occurs when bones in an infant’s head fuse together abnormally. The experienced doctors of St. Louis Children’s Hospital have been treating scaphocephaly for decades.

What Is Sagittal Craniosynostosis?

Sagittal craniosynostosis, or scaphocephaly, occurs when certain bones in a child’s skull fuse prematurely. At birth, a child’s skull is made up of several separate bones with growth plates (also called ‘sutures’) between them. Because the skull is not a solid piece of bone yet, the brain can grow and expand in size. Normally, the skull sutures close during adulthood.

In some children, the bones of the head fuse together before they should. Sagittal craniosynostosis refers to the premature closing of the suture that runs from front to back at the top of the head. Babies are usually identified with abnormal head shapes soon after birth.

When this happens, the bones put pressure on the brain and may keep it from growing normally. Scaphocephaly also causes a child’s head to look misshapen. This is why we recommend parents treat their children early – preferably before six months of age.

How Is Sagittal Craniosynostosis Treated?

When bones fuse together prematurely, the only way to separate them is with surgery. Our skilled surgeons offer both endoscopic and open scaphocephaly surgery. In consultation with you, your surgeon will recommend the best type of surgery for your child.

  • Endoscopic craniosynostosis repair. Not all surgeons in the region offer minimally invasive surgery for scaphocephaly. At St. Louis Children’s Hospital, we helped pioneer and refine this technique, and our surgeons have over a decade of experience performing it.
  • Open craniosynostosis repair surgery. For children who are not candidates for minimally invasive surgery, our expert surgeons use a traditional technique to achieve excellent results.

What Causes Sagittal Craniosynostosis?

Scaphocephaly can occur in a healthy infant for no known reason. Scaphocephaly has also been linked to:

How Is Sagittal Craniosynostosis Diagnosed?

Our doctors can often diagnose scaphocephaly with a simple physical exam. They may also order a quick, painless image (X-ray or CT scan) to confirm their diagnosis. Your baby will not undergo any invasive medical testing.

Contact Us

If you are concerned your baby might have sagittal craniosynostosis, please call us for an appointment at 314.454.5437 or toll-free at 800.678.5437.