Your Health

Crouzon Syndrome

Definition

Crouzon syndrome is a genetic disorder. It results in abnormal joining of the bones in the skull and face.

Infants have sutures between the bones in the face and skull. As an infant’s brain grows, these sutures allow the skull to expand. These sutures fuse together by the time we are adults and our skulls and brains are done growing.

In Crouzon syndrome, the bones in the skull and face fuse too early. The skull is then forced to grow in the direction of the remaining open sutures. This causes an abnormally shaped head, face, and teeth.

Normal Open Sutures in Infant Skull (Pink)
Infant Soft Spot
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Crouzon syndrome is caused by a defect in a specific gene known as FGFR2 (fibroblast growth factor receptor 2). It is not clear what causes this gene to mutate. Some may be inherited from parents' genes.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your child's risk of Crouzon syndrome include:

  • Parents with the disorder
  • Parents who do not have the disorder, but who carry the gene that causes the disorder.
  • Fathers at an older age at the time of conception

Symptoms

Symptoms of Crouzon syndrome include:

  • Flattened top and back of head
  • Flattened forehead and temples
  • Mid-face that is small and located further back in the face than normal
  • Beak-like nose
  • Compression of nasal passages, often causing reduced airflow through the nose
  • Large, protruding lower jaw
  • Misalignment of teeth
  • High-arched, narrow palate, or cleft palate

Other symptoms and complications that can result from Crouzon syndrome include:

  • Problems with development of the inner ear and hearing loss
  • Meniere’s disease—lightheadedness, vertigo, or ringing in the ears
  • Problems with the eyes, including vision problems, crossed eyes, or involuntary eye movement
  • Curvature of the spine
  • Headaches
  • Acanthosis nigricans—small, dark, velvety patches of skin
  • Hydrocephalus—build up of fluid in the skull

Diagnosis

Crouzon syndrome can usually be diagnosed based on physical signs and symptoms.

Images may be taken of the skull, spine, or hands. This can be done with:

Your doctor may also do genetic testing to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

There is no cure for Crouzon syndrome. Currently, many of the symptoms can be treated with surgery.

Treatment may include:

Surgery

There are a number of surgeries used to treat the symptoms of Crouzon syndrome. These include:

  • Craniectomy—removal and replacement of portions of the skull. Done as early as possible after birth to prevent damage to the brain. It will also help to maintain a skull shape that is as normal as possible.
  • Surgery to treat protrusion of one or both eyeballs—adjustments are made to the bones surrounding the eye sockets
  • Surgery to treat protruding lower jaw—to normalize the appearance of the jaw
  • Surgery to repair a cleft palate

Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic treatment can help correct the alignment of teeth. It may include braces.

Eye and Ear Treatment

Specialist should monitor infants and children with Crouzon syndrome. These specialists can check for eye and ear problems and treat as necessary.

Supportive Treatment

Children with a mental deficiency or intellectual disability may need special education help.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent Crouzon syndrome. If you have Crouzon syndrome or have a family history of the disorder, you can talk to a genetic counselor when deciding to have children.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 06/2014 -
  • Update Date: 06/03/2014 -
  • Cleft Palate Foundation

    http://www.cleftline.org

  • Office of Rare Diseases Research—National Institutes of Health

    http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov

  • Health Canada

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

  • Sick Kids—The Hospital for Sick Children

    http://www.sickkids.ca

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  • Craniosynostosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 28, 2011. Accessed June 3, 2014.

  • Crouzon Syndrome. NIH Office of Rare Disease website. Available at: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/QnASelected.aspx?diseaseID=6206. Updated March 24, 2011. Accessed June 3, 2014.

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  • Perlyn CA, Morriss-Kay G, et al. A model for the pharmacological treatment of crouzon syndrome. Neurosurgery. 2006 Jul;59(1):210-215.