Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Anomalies Center

Craniosynostosis Treatment—What to Expect

Craniosynostosis is treated with a combination of surgical intervention and helmet therapy. If treated early enough in a baby's life, minimally invasive endoscopic surgery may be performed. Following are some frequently asked questions regarding treatment for craniosynostosis.

Will my Child Need a Blood Transfusion?

There is a chance that your child may need blood during surgery or the recovery period. There is a Designated Donor Program available whereby family members or friends can donate blood in advance. We can help you with these arrangements before surgery. If we are able to offer you an endoscopic, minimally invasive procedure, the chances that a blood transfusion will be required are less.

What Can be Expected of the Hospital Stay?

The total hospital stay is usually three to four days. A tour of the operating room and hospital by a Child Life Specialist can be arranged. On the morning of surgery you will report back to the Day Surgery Area. There is a Family Waiting Room upstairs where you can wait during the operation and receive progress reports from the operating room. Books, coffee, and internet access are available.

After surgery your child will spend the night in the Intensive Care Unit in order to be closely watched. We might check a CAT scan right after the operation. You will be able to visit as much as possible and even spend the night in the ICU room. While in the ICU, your child will have several IV lines and monitors. Most of these will be removed before your child leaves the ICU.

There will be some swelling of the forehead and eyes after the operation. Swelling always gets worse before it gets better. On the second day after the operation, your child's eyes may swell closed. This will rapidly improve. If we are able to offer your child an endoscopic, minimally invasive procedure, the swelling will be much less. The day after surgery your child will be able to start having liquids and will gradually progress back to a regular diet.

What About Pain?

You are probably worried about the amount of pain your child may experience. Every effort is made to minimize and alleviate pain. In the ICU, pain medicine is given frequently by way of IV and then your child will be slowly converted to oral medicines. All in all you will be surprised at how well your child does after the operation. Kids bounce back very fast and resume their usual behaviors within a brief period of time.

Your child will not require any special care after discharge except for common sense safety precautions. The hair may be gently washed. All the stitches are dissolvable. A follow-up visit is scheduled for approximately two weeks after discharge.

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