Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Anomalies Center

Diagnosing Deformational Plagiocephaly

Usually the diagnosis of deformational plagiocephaly is made by physical examination. Sometimes x-rays or a CT scan of the cranium are needed to confirm the diagnosis. Radiographs are requested if there is a question regarding another condition that causes flattening and misshaping of the cranium.

When diagnosing deformational plagiocephaly, we are determining if there is a premature closure of a cranial suture (craniosynostosis), involving the forehead and rarely, the back of the head. This abnormal suture fusion is called synostotic plagiocephaly. Proper diagnosis is critical because the synostotic plagiocephaly or craniosynostosis causes a permanent and often progressive abnormally shaped cranium. We will let you know if we have any concerns about this problem. An operation is required to release the bones in craniosynostosis. In contrast, deformational plagiocephaly is usually self-correcting and an operation is not needed.

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