Dolichocephaly: Causes, Symptoms, Characteristics, Diagnosis, Treatment and Risk Factors

It is craniosynostosis, a skull malformation caused by the early closure of one or several cranial sutures.


When a malformation is observed in children, as is the elongated head, it is said that one is facing a case of dolichocephaly, which is craniosynostosis.

The disease occurs when the distance between the ears or from the nose to the back of the head is not within the average skull indexes of children.

If the child suffers from dolichocephaly, the measurement of the head is longer back than from side to side. It is the first symptom to the naked eye when the doctor diagnoses the disease.

Causes of Dolichocephalus

Subsequently, the doctor must raise the baby’s medical history, from the moment of pregnancy, together with the parents. Said story would focus on the following aspects:

  • As the mother’s pregnancy passed.
  • Position of the baby in the mother’s womb.
  • If it is the product of premature birth (born prematurely).
  • The trauma suffered by the mother during pregnancy or the child at the time of delivery.
  • If the child is the product of multiple births and the development of other babies.
  • The position is usually adopted by the baby to sleep.


When a baby’s brain grows, the sutures between the bones of the skull expand and lead to the development of a head considered normal.

If one or more of these sutures are closed outside of regulation time, it will cause the skull to expand in the direction of the sutures that remain open, resulting in an abnormal shape of the child’s head.


These sutures are called sagittal (they are located from the front of the head to the back) and join before time, and this closure prevents the skull from expanding and begins to grow into open sutures. These sutures are on the side of the head.

Consequences of closure of sagittal sutures

This premature closure of the sutures is that the skull acquires an elongated, narrow, and boat-shaped appearance and develops a ridge (raised area) observed by the closed sagittal sutures.

Abnormal forms of the skull can occur due to:

  • A strange position of the fetus during pregnancy.
  • Strange place to sleep.
  • Or by pressure on the child’s neck.

When the case of dolichocephaly is severe, it can increase the pressure on the growing brain, which leads to brain deterioration and mental retardation in the child.

Diagnosis of Dolichocephaly

Once the information is obtained through the clinical history, we proceed to carry out studies on the child, such as taking x-rays and measurements of the skull to make a more accurate initial diagnosis.

Dolichocephaly is diagnosed when the skull has a cephalic index less than 75 on the scale. The cephalic index is the scale to measure the size of the baby’s head.

It is obtained by multiplying the maximum width of the head by 100 and dividing that number by the entire length of the head. A cephalic index between 76 and 80 is considered normal. The lower the cephalic index number, the longer the skull.

According to the characteristics obtained from studies such as radiographs, CT (Computerized Axial Tomography), and skull measurements, the dolichocephaly can be classified as a mild to severe malformation.

However, dolichocephaly is associated with some developmental disabilities of the child, which can result in:

  • Delay.
  • Psychological problems include low self-esteem and depression, which can occur when the child is growing.
  • The deformation of the skull: can also cause difficulties when chewing, swallowing, vision problems, and even breathing.

The longer the skull is, the greater the risk of serious problems. Once the dolichocephaly is diagnosed, the treatment consists of removing the bone in the center of the closed future.


In most cases of dolichocephaly, children are treated with surgery, which will allow them to lead an everyday life after being operated on.

The surgery gives more satisfactory results when it is done before the baby reaches nine months of age. This surgery can be considered 100% successful and allows the skull to adopt a more normal shape.

The procedure is to cut the hairline, where the scar is practically invisible to the eye after the surgery since the hair will cover it.

After surgery, the hospital stay is usually three to four days. It may be observed inflamed and closed eyes for a few days, and the forehead with slight swelling is considered a normal process. In general, children recover from surgery very well and quickly.

Risk factors of Dolichocephalus

An important fact to note is that this malformation known as dolichocephaly occurs in approximately 1 of every 4200 babies born.


The term Dolicocephaly comes from the Greek word ” dolichos, “which means “long,” and the word ” kephale,” which means “head.” Hence the term “elongated head” defines it.