The beaten copper cranium: A correlation between intracranial pressure, cranial radiographs, and computed tomographic scans in children with craniosynostosis

Gerald F. Tuite, Jane Evanson, W. K. Chong, Dominic N.P. Thompson, William F. Harkness, Barry M. Jones, Richard D. Hayward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: The beaten copper appearance of the cranium, as well as other cranial radiographic and computed tomographic findings in children with craniosynostosis, is often interpreted by clinicians as evidence of elevated intracranial pressure (ICP). However, a correlation between radiological findings and ICP measurements has not been previously demonstrated, and their usefulness in detecting elevated ICP has not been defined. METHODS: To address those issues, 123 children with craniosynostosis who had cranial radiographs and ICP monitoring were studied. To assess the specificity of certain radiological findings to patients with craniosynostosis, cranial radiographs of patients with craniosynostosis were compared to those of age- and sex-matched controls. In patients with craniosynostosis, findings on cranial radiographs were compared to computed tomographic scans of the brain. Radiographic findings were then correlated with ICP measurements obtained while the patient was sleeping, which was measured using a Camino fiberoptic ICP monitor (Camino Laboratories, San Diego, CA). All radiographs were independently analyzed by two radiologists who were blinded to clinical and ICP data. RESULTS: A diffuse beaten copper pattern, erosion of the dorsum sella, and suture diastasis were seen more commonly in patients with craniosynostosis than in controls (P < 0.05), but the presence of the beaten copper pattern was no more common in children with craniosynostosis. ICP was greater when a diffuse beaten copper pattern, dorsum sellar erosion, suture diastasis, or narrowing of basal cisterns was present (P < 0.05). CONCLUSION: Although this study demonstrates that some cranial radiographic and computed tomographic findings do correlate with elevated ICP, the sensitivity of radiological methods for detecting elevated ICP is universally low and they are not recommended to screen for elevated ICP in children with craniosynostosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-699
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Computed tomography
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Cranium
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Intracranial pressure
  • Luckenschadel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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