What is Plagiocephaly?
The word plagiocephaly derives from the Greek language, literally plagio means oblique, and cephaly means head.
There are two main types of plagiocephaly – positional/deformative (the common issues caused by head preference to one side), and synostotic plagiocephaly (caused by fusion of the skull plates.
What does the presentation of plagiocephaly look like?
In positional plagiocephaly, there is a head preference to one side.
This can lead to increased pressure on that side of the head, leading to the flattening at the back part of the skull (occiput) on that side.
This is turn can lead to a change in the shape of the rest of the skull, with pushing forward (anterior) of the ear on the same side.
The bone at the front of the skull may then be pushed forward on the same side as the flattening, and the anterior ear.
In more severe cases there will be changes to facial structure, such as the cheek bones, and the eyes (orbits).
This is the typical positional plagiocephaly shape changes. This must be differentiated from the shape changes associated with synostotic plagiocephaly, which has a different appearance (see picture 2).
It is important for your practitioner to clearly identify the type of plagiocephaly, as the management for both is very different.
There are various ways to measure the severity of the plagiocephaly, and this helps us form a view as to management options, and how long it may take for the issue to resolve.
O’Neil, Carrie and Stewart, Adam. The recognition of craniosynostosis when managing patients with plagiocephaly: Two case reports of lambdoid craniosynostosis [online]. Chiropractic Journal of Australia, Vol. 43, No. 4, Dec 2013: 124-130