Separated Sutures: The Basics

INTRODUCTION TO SEPARATED SUTURES

So first, what is a suture? A suture is a type of joint held together by a type of fiber found only in the skull. When two sutures or fibrous joints come together, a membrane called fontanel is formed. The fontanel is most commonly known as a soft spot in young children. The suture is necessary as it protects the brain of the infant and also permits growth. The separation of sutures brings about a bulge or indentation that can be seen on the head of an infant.

Separated sutures, what are they? These are unusually wide gaps in the skull of a very young child. Remember that an infant’s skull is made up of bony plates which integrate with each other as the infant grows. Separated sutures in infants should be reported to medical experts as the situation can be life-threatening.

Separated sutures
Photo Credit: Healthline

WHAT CAUSES SUTURE SEPARATION?

Sutures get separated for many reasons. Commonly at birth, the pressure from the process can cause the plates of an infant’s skull to overlap at the suture thereby forming a kind of bridge. Most times, the bridge usually disappears a few days after which the cranium returns to its normal shape.

However, there are other factors which can cause separated sutures and such cases call for timely medical intervention. These factors include:

Trauma

There can be head trauma in a newborn baby which can result from an accidental or non-accidental blow to the head. This, in turn, leads to a swelling fontanel or soft spot. The brain of the baby can also bleed internally or collect a pool of blood on its surface, a situation referred to as a subdural hematoma. This situation needs emergency medical care.

Nutritional Deficiency and Dehydration

When an infant lacks some essential minerals and vitamins, the sutures can separate as the bony plates connecting tissues lack the nutrients to keep them strong and healthy. The fontanel of a newborn can also sink in if there is not enough fluid in the body.

Diseases or Health Conditions

The pressure in a newborn’s skull may rise, thereby causing separated sutures. The following are few of such diseases and conditions:

  • Brain tumors
  • Down Syndrome
  • Meningitis
  • Congenital Infections
  • Dandy-Walker Malformation
  • Hydrocephalus

DOES SUTURE SEPARATION WARRANT EMERGENCY ATTENTION?

It is advisable to seek medical attention immediately you observe a bulge on an infant’s head. It indicates an inflammation. Separated sutures pose threats to the life of a newborn baby. The success of medical exercise depends on the promptness of the call.

HOME CARE FOR SEPARATED SUTURES

Although suture separation is an issue that requires the doctor, simple home care can be applied to identify the condition or manage the symptoms.

For instance, you should observe a bulge on your newborn’s head when they cry, throw up or lie on the back.  This swelling normally disappears as the infant stops crying, when he or she is calm, when he or she ceases from vomiting or when he or she sits upright. Continuous bulging warrants medical attention.

It will also be helpful to record an infant’s development and medical history. With these, health care professionals can better understand the infant’s health status and determine if such case is prompted by a chronic situation.

MEDICAL CARE FOR SEPARATED SUTURES

When you consult your doctor for diagnosis, your infant might have to be physically examined. By this, the scalp will be viewed and felt for possible spaces between the bony plates of the skull to ascertain how far apart the sutures are. There might also be a need to examine the soft spots as well as the veins within the skull.

There might be a need to inspect the structure of the bones inside the child’s skull. This is done through a variety of diagnostic tests like computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), blood tests, or examination of the eyes. A spinal tap can also be conducted.

The doctor could equally review the child’s medical record while evaluating the observed symptoms. Information about the baby’s physical development, feeding, a pattern of the observed symptoms as well as feeding may also be required.

Note that the foundational causes of separated sutures are very critical. The accurate prediction of the course of suture separation depends solely on seeking and obtaining medical attention.

HOW TO PREVENT SUTURE SEPARATION

You might not be able to totally avoid the situation, but you can do a few things to help. A look at some;

Your child should not be exposed to treated or untreated patients of meningitis.

Your baby should not lack fluids and the necessary nutrients for the body.

Endeavor to keep your infant from accidental head trauma. This you could do by providing bumper pads in car seats and cribs as well as keeping harmful items away from the child.

There are vaccines that protect against some form of meningitis. You should make them available for your baby.

If your baby shows unusual signs, get medical intervention as soon as possible.

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