Diagnostic Ultrasound › Newborn Screening
Ultrasound has a very valid contribution in the screening of newborn babies. It may be used to diagnose conditions which are difficult to pick up during antenatal ultrasounds. It may be necessary to screen the child after a difficult delivery, or in cases of premature birth. It may also be indicated if any doubts arise during the routine check ups after birth.
BRAIN (HEAD) ULTRASOUND
A head ultrasound is a scan through baby’s fontanelle (soft spot in baby’s skull) to examine the structures of the brain. This is usually needed in preterm babies in hospital to check for bleeding in the brain, to monitor the size of the fluid spaces (ventricles) of the brain, and later to look signs of brain injury.
Once outside of hospital, the commonest reason for a brain ultrasound is when the head size appears to grow unusually fast relative to the rest of the body – in this case we want to exclude a condition called hydrocephalus, where there is abnormal accumulation of fluid in the ventricles of the brain.
A spinal ultrasound is performed to assess the spinal cord of the baby. Most commonly this ultrasound is required when babies are born with a dimple on the lower end of their spine or tail bone. Other signs include asymmetrical creases in the buttocks, swelling, tufts of hair or birth marks over the lower back. In this case we would need to check new-born babies for tethering of the cord or spina bifida. Both these conditions are well seen with ultrasound at that age.
KIDNEY (ABDOMINAL) ULTRASOUND
Congenital abnormalities of the kidney and urinary tract are some of the most common birth defects, however the majority are associated with a normal life if monitored and managed appropriately.
The commonest abnormality is the presence of hydronephrosis – an abnormal accumulation of urine in the kidneys. This may be the result of back flow of urine into the kidneys or a blockage in the system.
HIP ULTRASOUND SCREENING
Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) previously known as Congenital dislocation of the hip (CDH) is a problem with the way a baby's hip joint develops. It happens around the time of birth and can affect one hip or both.
Ultrasound is the investigation of choice as at that age it visualises the hips clearly. It is best carried out under the age of 6 months but is ideally performed before 6 weeks of age because the earlier treatment is started, the more likely it is to be successful.
Email us for more information or to book an ultrasound. Though a referral is not obligatory, it is recommended, as that would make it easier to pass on the result to the attending physician.
IS ULTRASOUND SAFE IN NEWBORNS?
Yes. The equipment is the same as that used during pregnancy. The use of sound waves to create images means there is no radiation and no heat generation, making it safe and painless.
PREPARATION REQUIRED FOR NEWBORN SCREENING
No preparation is required for ultrasounds on the newborn.