The diagnosis and treatment of single-sutural synostoses: Are computed tomographic scans necessary?

Jeffrey A. Fearon, Davinder J. Singh, Stephen P. Beals, Jack C. Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Computed tomographic scan evaluation is the current standard of care for diagnosing craniosynostosis. Recent publications, and the National Cancer Institute, have raised concerns about ionizing radiation associated with computed tomographic scans in children (e.g., developmental delays, tumor induction). The authors sought to ascertain the diagnostic accuracy of the physical examination in evaluating single-sutural craniosynostosis and assess the need for computed tomographic scans in surgical correction. METHODS: This prospective, multicenter, outcome assessment included children clinically diagnosed with a single-sutural synostosis by craniofacial surgeons (with 1 to 18 years' experience) at four centers over a 1-year period. Clinical diagnoses were compared with computed tomographic scan evaluations. All surgeons scored the utility of computed tomographic scans during surgical repair. RESULTS: Sixty-seven patients were clinically diagnosed with single-sutural craniosynostosis (mean age, 7 months; range, 1 week to 48 months). Sixty-six of 67 patients were diagnosed with craniosynostosis by computed tomographic scan (sagittal, 40 percent; metopic, 31 percent; right unilateral coronal, 16 percent; left unilateral coronal, 6 percent; and right lambdoid, 6 percent), for a diagnostic accuracy exceeding 98 percent. One patient with suspected lambdoid synostosis was radiologically diagnosed with positional plagiocephaly. Three of four craniofacial surgeons scored computed tomographic scans as "unnecessary" for surgical correction; one scored scans as "sometimes helpful." CONCLUSIONS: Craniofacial surgeons with various experience levels were able to accurately diagnose single-sutural synostosis by physical examination alone. Considering potential side effects from ionizing radiation, risks of sedation, and costs, surgeons may wish to reserve computed tomographic scans only for infants with suspected single-sutural craniosynostosis in whom the physical examination is not clearly diagnostic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1327-1331
Number of pages5
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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