Metopic synostosis

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Metopic synostosis

Question

What can you tell me about metopic synostosis? What happens if it's not corrected in infancy?

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Answer

Full-term infants are born with well-formed skull bones separated by joints (sutures). These joints close (fuse) at different times in a child's development. Joints that close prematurely — a condition called craniosynostosis, or synostosis — can result in an abnormal head shape and may affect brain growth. Metopic synostosis is the premature fusing of the metopic suture, which is in the forehead. This results in a pointed forehead.

The exact cause of metopic synostosis isn't known. But in some cases, it is inherited. Signs and symptoms of metopic synostosis include:

  • Absence of a "soft spot" (fontanel) on the newborn's skull
  • A hard, raised ridge along the metopic suture
  • Abnormal head shape
  • Failure of the head to increase in size as the baby grows

A doctor may make a diagnosis by:

  • Neurological exam
  • X-rays of the skull
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan of the head
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head

Treatment of metopic synostosis typically involves surgery in infancy to separate the fused bones. This allows the brain adequate space to grow and develop. In many cases, children with only one suture involved need only one surgical procedure.

If untreated in infancy, metopic synostosis may lead to:

  • Increased pressure within the skull, which may interfere with brain function
  • Distorted physical appearance as the child grows

Metopic synostosis

Illustration of metopic synostosis

Metopic synostosis is the premature fusing of the metopic suture, which is in the forehead. This results in a pointed forehead.

Last Updated: 02/06/2006
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