Cranial Ultrasound – To Evaluate Complications Of Premature Or Complicated Births

A cranial ultrasound, also known as ‘head scan’, uses reflected sound waves to produce images of the brain structure and the inner fluid spaces (ventricles) through which cerebrospinal fluid flows. This test is done on babies to evaluate problems of premature or complicated births.
In adults, this test is conducted to visualize brain masses during brain surgery. X-rays are not used in this test.

This test is conducted on babies before the bones of the skull (cranium) have grown together or on adults when the skull has been surgically opened. The reason being, ultrasound waves cannot pass through bones. The problems in the brain and ventricles in babies can be evaluated to about 1.5 years.

Cranial Ultrasound Is Done On Babies For The Following Reasons:

  • Regular screening of babies born prematurely: To detect bleeding in the brain
  • To detect periventricular leukomalacia (PVL): IVH and PVL increase a baby's risk of developing disabilities, such as cerebral palsy or mental retardation.
  • To evaluate brain problems that present from birth
  • To evaluate an enlarging head
  • To detect infection or abnormal growths in or around the brain
Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) leads to damage of brain tissue around the ventricles due to decreased oxygen flow or blood flow to the brain that might have taken place before, during, or after delivery. IVH and PVL can lead to disabilities such as cerebral palsy or mental retardation.

IVH is common in premature babies and can be detected in the first week after delivery by cranial ultrasound. In case of PVL, it takes several weeks to detect. Cranial ultrasound tests are repeated to evaluate different sites in the brain.

In case of adults, this test is done only after the skull has been surgically opened during surgery.
 


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