What is Sagittal Synostosis?

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  • Written By: Rachel Burkot
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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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.


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Post 7

My son was born with this. His surgery is two weeks from now. It's scary as he is normal in every other way and reading about the complications makes one nervous.

Post 6

My daughter had surgery for craniosynostosis in July 2012. Now her sight is impaired. I want to know whether her sight can be restored.

Post 5

My son had this at birth in 1993. However they caught it early and so the surgery wasn't that complex. The worst part was the anesthesia. And the scar, but it was soon covered by hair. He had no trouble healing and is perfectly fine. But surgery at five days old was very scary for all of us. They give you that information session beforehand where they tell you everything that could go wrong and you have to sign papers to agree to the surgery after hearing all the complications. That was traumatic. However, there are so many other things that can go wrong that are life-long issues. This was just a blip in his life. – Michelle

Post 4

@Monika - One of my friends just had a baby and she worries about every little thing. I can only imagine how she would be if her baby had to have surgery!

Post 3

I can only imagine how stressful something like this must be for the parents. Most people don't even know what the sagittal suture is, let alone that it can close prematurely. I'm sure worry about sagittal synostosis isn't at the top of the list which must make it more shocking when it does happen.

It's great there is surgery out there to correct this problem with the cranial sutures but my heart really goes out to the parents of these babies!

Post 2

I don't think this decision would be easy to make. If my baby had metopic synostosis, I would be reluctant to have surgery just because of the possible complications.

Post 1

At least they have surgery now for babies with sagittal synostosis symptoms. Although surgery can be traumatic for a baby, I think the pros far outweigh the cons.

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