Paediatric craniofacial surgery is primarily concerned with treating congenital and acquired malformations that occur in the head, skull and facial region.
Paediatric neurosurgeons perform paediatric craniofacial surgery to rectify deformities in infants such as craniosynostosis.
Craniosynostosis is a congenital condition in which fibrous joints between the skull bones fuse prematurely. This causes the skull to assume an irregular shape as an infant grows.
Treating craniosynostosis involves a multidisciplinary approach. This means including different medical specialists in the care of a child who has craniosynostosis. This includes a paediatric neurosurgeon, plastic and reconstructive surgeon, craniofacial and reconstructive surgeon, clinical geneticist and genetics counsellor, clinical nurse consultant and speech pathologist.
Paediatric neurosurgeons, and plastic, craniofacial and reconstructive surgeons, can treat this condition with a traditional or a minimally invasive method.
The traditional method involves making an incision and removing the affected part of the skull. The neurosurgeon shapes the bone (or inserts a replacement) to provide the baby with a skull that allows their brain to continue developing.
A child will need to wear a cranial orthotic helmet for a time after surgery to ensure the skull continues forming as it should.