Fusion patterns of major calvarial sutures on volume-rendered CT reconstructions

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  • 1 Departments of Neurosurgery,
  • 2 Radiology, and
  • 5 Plastic Surgery, Children’s Hospital Colorado, University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, Colorado;
  • 3 Department of Neurosurgery, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia; and
  • 4 Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York
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Recently, the authors investigated the normal course of fusion of minor lateral calvarial sutures on “3D” volume-rendered head CT reconstructions in pediatric trauma patients. While evaluating these reconstructions, they found many more fused sagittal sutures than expected given the currently accepted prevalence of sagittal craniosynostosis. In the present study, using the same set of head CT reconstructions, they investigated the course of fusion of the sagittal as well as the lambdoid, coronal, and metopic sutures.


They reviewed all volume-rendered head CT reconstructions performed in the period from 2010 through mid-2012 at Children’s Hospital Colorado for trauma patients aged 0–21 years. Each sagittal, lambdoid, coronal, or metopic suture was graded as open, partially fused, or fused. The cephalic index (CI) was calculated for subjects with fused and partially fused sagittal sutures.


After exclusions, 331 scans were reviewed. Twenty-one subjects (6%) had fusion or partial fusion of the sagittal suture. Four of the 21 also had fusion of the medial lambdoid and/or coronal sutures. In the 17 subjects (5%) with sagittal suture fusion and no medial fusion of adjacent sutures, the mean CI was 77.6. None of the 21 subjects had been previously diagnosed with craniosynostosis. Other than in the 21 subjects already mentioned, no other sagittal or lambdoid sutures were fused at all. Nor were other coronal sutures fused medially. Coronal sutures were commonly fused inferiorly early during the 2nd decade of life, and fusion progressed superiorly and medially as subjects became older; none were completely fused by 18 years of age. Fusion of the metopic suture was first seen at 3 months of life; fusion was often not complete until after 2 years.


The sagittal and lambdoid sutures do not usually begin to fuse before 18 years of age. However, more sagittal sutures are fused before age 18 than expected given the currently accepted prevalence of craniosynostosis. This finding is of unknown significance, but likely many of them do not need surgery. The coronal suture often begins to fuse inferiorly early in the 2nd decade of life but does not usually complete fusion before 18 years of age. The metopic suture often starts to fuse by 3 months of age, but it may not completely fuse until after 2 years of age.

ABBREVIATIONS CI = cephalic index.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplemental Tables 1-3 (PDF 411 KB)

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence C. Corbett Wilkinson: Children’s Hospital Colorado, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO. charles.wilkinson@childrenscolorado.org.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online February 7, 2020; DOI: 10.3171/2019.11.PEDS1953.

Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.


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