While birth-related defects and traumas involving the face and skull are common, St. Christopher’s Craniofacial Team understands the difficulties and sensitivities they entail for both parents and children. That’s why the Craniofacial Program works with you and your child’s primary care doctor to coordinate treatment with compassion, sensitivity and expertise. If your child has a craniofacial condition, you can trust the Craniofacial Program at St. Christopher’s to provide advanced multidisciplinary treatment. The Craniofacial Program uses a family-centered approach to provide advanced care from initial pre- or postnatal consultation through follow-up care and into adulthood.
The Craniofacial Team works not only to help improve the appearance of your child’s deformity, but also to reduce the functional impact it may have on your child. The Team often begins the process of correcting deformities within the first year of your child’s life and can even provide prenatal consultation if a diagnosis is made before your child is born. The Team strives to assist children as they grow into adulthood with as minimal impact as possible on function and appearance through the use of proven treatments and interventions. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (215) 427-4389.
The Craniofacial Team’s surgeons are trained and specialize in the treatment of children with cleft lip/palate and craniofacial disorders. Members of the team have completed fellowships in craniofacial surgery as well as specialized training in dentistry and oral surgery. St. Christopher’s has been a leader in the treatment of children with craniofacial disorders and cleft lip/palate for decades.
The Program’s multidisciplinary team is experienced in treating a wide variety of anomalies that includes:
- Cleft lip and palate
- Craniosynostosis (premature closing of joints in a baby’s skull) and related skull deformities
- Hemifacial microsomia and microtia (small ear deformity)
- Hemangiomas (bright red birth mark caused by extra blood vessles in the skin) and vascular malformations (abnormal clusters of blood vessels)
- Ear deformities
- Encephaloceles — a rare birth defect in which a baby’s skull doesn’t close completely
- Face and jaw tumors and trauma
- Neurofibromatosis — a genetic disorder that disturbs cell growth in the nervous system, causing tumors to form on nerve tissue
- Complex craniomaxillofacial disorders
- Velopharyngeal incompetence (improper closing of the soft palate muscle during speech) and other speech disorders
Children with craniosynostosis, occipital plagiocephaly (flattening of the back of the head) and other congenital and acquired skull deformities are evaluated jointly by a pediatric neurosurgeon, craniofacial plastic surgeon, dentist, and oral surgeon with frequent consultation by a dedicated social worker, audiology, clinical genetics, ophthalmology, otolaryngology and speech pathology specialists. Plans for diagnostic evaluations, surgical interventions and other care are developed in cooperation with your child’s primary care doctor.
St. Christopher’s Craniofacial Team offers endoscopic-assisted procedures for children with craniosynostosis who meet specific criteria. St. Christopher’s performs a minimally invasive procedure called an endoscopic synostectomy to treat craniosynostosis. During the procedure, an endoscope is inserted through one or two small cuts in the scalp, and bone from the fused suture is removed. The surgery, which is performed by a neurosurgeon and plastic surgeon, takes about one hour, causes minimal swelling and blood loss, and children only spend one day in the hospital.
A Team of Leaders
Your child’s expertly trained team includes:
- Multispecialty surgeons (specializing in plastic, craniofacial, oral maxillofacial and neurosurgery) that evaluate, recommend treatment options and provide surgical interventions and ongoing care from birth into adulthood.
- A pediatric dentist who evaluates, provides counseling and treats dental issues arising from craniofacial disorders and specializes in clefts and disorders of the mandible.
- A genetic counselor who provides counseling, education and follow-up care for children and families.
- A speech pathologist who assesses and treats swallowing and communication difficulties.
- A social worker who connects families with community resources and helps children and families learn coping strategies related to diagnosis and treatment.
- A team coordinator who provides clinical and administrative coordination of your child’s treatment to ensure all his or her needs are met.