Long-term treatment results of craniosynostosis

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Oulu University Hospital, auditorium 2

Topic of the dissertation

Long-term treatment results of craniosynostosis

Doctoral candidate

Licentiate of Medicine (M.D) Anja Svalina

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, Medical Research Center (MRC)

Subject of study



Docent Junnu Leikola , Helsinki University Hospital


Docent Niina Salokorpi , Oulu University Hospital

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Long-term treatment results of children with premature ossification of cranial sutures

The infant's skull is formed from multiple bones. Fibrous joints between the skull bones are called sutures. The condition where one or more sutures are prematurely fused is defined as craniosynostosis. The premature ossification of the sutures can lead to anomalies in the normal function of the brain as well as aesthetical disturbances. Craniosynostosis occurs in 1 to 2 in every 1000 live births.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the long-term treatment results of patients operated on for sagittal or metopic synostosis in Oulu University Hospital and to investigate whether these patients experienced more psychological problems compared with controls and if facial symmetry played a role in it. Another goal was to evaluate the surgical complications and the need for reoperation in sagittal synostosis patients.

On the basis of the 3D photogrammetric imaging method, the long-term aesthetical results of the patients were good. Adult patients who were treated surgically in childhood for scaphocephaly or trigonocephaly had the most facial asymmetry in the upper parts of the face when compared with controls. These patients did not experience lower self-esteem or more depressive symptoms on follow-up when compared with controls. Panels evaluated the controls’ aesthetical appearance to be more pleasing than the patients’ but the difference was small and the patients themselves were as satisfied as controls with their own appearance.

The operation method used to treat sagittal synostosis patients in Oulu University Hospital was found to be feasible and safe. No mortality or permanent morbidity was associated with the technique. The aesthetical outcome was evaluated to be excellent or good in over 96% of the cases at the last follow-up visit. All patients (13%) who required a redo surgery were diagnosed with craniocerebral disproportion by the age of five years, thus with follow-up time enough for all progressions to be detected. Following these patients until the age of seven, as it is done in Oulu University Hospital Craniofacial Center, appeared to be sufficient.

These results were greatly encouraging since after an over 26-year period of follow-up, patients had good aesthetical results and did not experience more psychological difficulties as controls.

This study gives valuable information regarding the used operation methods and provides a good basis for future development of procedures and applications.
Last updated: 13.5.2024