|An adult with Crouzon syndrome.|
Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. 
Crouzon syndrome is a genetic disorder known as a branchial arch syndrome. Specifically, this syndrome affects the first branchial (or pharyngeal) arch, which is the precursor of the maxilla and mandible. Since the branchial arches are important developmental features in a growing embryo, disturbances in their development create lasting and widespread effects.
This syndrome is named after Octave Crouzon, a French physician who first described this disorder. He noted the affected patients were a mother and her daughter, implying a genetic basis. First called "craniofacial dysostosis", the disorder was characterized by a number of clinical features; as of 2007, the disorder has no known single, initiating defect to account for all of its characteristics.
Breaking down the name, "craniofacial" refers to the skull and face, and "dysostosis" refers to synostosis (a union between adjacent bones or parts of a single bone).
Now known as Crouzon Syndrome, the disease can be described by the rudimentary meanings of its former name. What occurs in the disease is that an infant's skull and facial bones, while in development, fuse early or are unable to expand. Thus, normal bone growth cannot occur. Fusion of different sutures leads to different patterns of growth of the skull. Examples include: trigonocephaly (fusion of the metopic suture), brachycephaly (fusion of the coronal suture), dolichocephaly (fusion of the sagittal suture), plagiocephaly (unilateral premature closure of lambdoid and coronal sutures), oxycephaly (fusion of coronal and lambdoidal sutures), Kleeblattschaedel ( premature closure of all sutures).
As a very complicating result of the changes to the developing embryo, the symptoms are very pronounced features, especially in the facial areas. Low-set ears is a typical characteristic, as in all of the disorders which are called branchial arch syndromes. The reason for this abnormality is that ears on a fetus are much lower than those on an adult. During normal development, the ears "travel" upward on the head; however, in Crouzon patients, this pattern of development is disrupted. Ear canal malformations are extremely common, generally resulting in some hearing loss. In particularly severe cases, Ménière's disease may occur.
The most notable characteristic of Crouzon Syndrome is cranial synostosis, as described above, but it usually presents as brachycephaly, which results in the appearance of a short and broad head. Exophthalmos (bulging eyes due to shallow eye sockets after early fusion of surrounding bones), hypertelorism (greater than normal distance between the eyes), and psittichorhina (beak-like nose) are also symptoms. Additionally, a common occurrence is external strabismus, which can be thought of as opposite from the eye position found in Down Syndrome. Lastly, hypoplastic maxilla (insufficient growth of the midface) results in relative mandibular prognathism (chin appears to protrude despite normal growth of mandible) and gives the effect of the patient having a concave face.
For reasons that are not entirely clear, most Crouzon patients also have noticeably shorter humerus and femur bones, in proportion to the rest of their bodies, than members of the general population. A small percentage of Crouzon patients also have what is called "Type II" Crouzon Syndrome, distinguished by partial syndactyly.
Diagnosis of Crouzon Syndrome usually can occur at birth by assessing the signs and symptoms of the baby. Further analysis, including radiographs, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, genetic testing, X-rays and CT scans can be used to confirm the diagnosis of Crouzon syndrome.
Incidence of Crouzon Syndrome is currently estimated to occur in 1 out of every 25,000 people out of the general population. Naturally, there is a greater frequency in families with a history of the disorder, but that doesn't mean that everyone in the family is affected (as referred to above).
Surgery is typically used to prevent the closure of sutures of the skull from damaging the brain's development. Without surgery, blindness and mental retardation are typical outcomes. To treat the cosmetic troubles, a combination of orthodontic and orthognathic surgery can be used to relieve some of the midface deficiency. In addition, many patients wear a custom-fitted helmet (or cranial band) for several months after surgery.
Once treated for the cranial vault symptoms, Crouzon patients generally go on to live a normal lifespan.
For dentists, this disorder is very important to understand since most of the physical abnormalities are presented in the head, and particularly the oral cavity. Common features are a narrow/high-arched palate, posterior bilateral crossbite, hypodontia (missing some teeth), and increased spacing between teeth. Due to maxillary hypoplasia, Crouzon patients generally have a considerable permanent underbite and subsequently cannot chew using their incisors. For this reason, Crouzon patients sometimes eat in an unusual way--eating fried chicken with a fork, for example, or breaking off pieces of a sandwich rather than taking a bite out of it.
- Crouzon Syndrome: Frequently Asked Questions - AboutFace
- Crouzon Syndrome - About.com
- Crouzon Syndrome - Seattle Children's Hospital Craniofacial Center
- cleftAdvocate - Non-profit support organization for all craniofacial conditions; on-line and in-person family support, insurance and advocacy assistance, and more.
- Crouzon Support Network - Information, on-line and in-person family support and more.
- General Information at hopkinsmedicine.org
cs:Crouzonův syndrom de:Crouzon-Syndrom ko:크루존 증후군 nl:Syndroom van Crouzon