Sagittal Craniosynostosis: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers
Download Sagittal Craniosynostosis: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers

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

For more information about sagittal craniosynostosis and its treatment, please call 314.454.5437 or 800.678.5437 or email us.

What Is Sagittal Craniosynostosis?

Sagittal craniosynostosis 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 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 craniosynostosis 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.  View photo examples of our patients who have had this procedure. 
  • 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.  View photo examples of our patients who have had this procedure. 

What Causes Sagittal Craniosynostosis?

Sagittal craniosynostosis can occur in a healthy infant for no known reason, but has also been linked to:

How Is Sagittal Craniosynostosis Diagnosed?

Our doctors can often diagnose sagittal craniosynostosis 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.

Publications from Our Craniosynostosis Team Related to Sagittal Craniosynostosis

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.