Optimal timing of spinal ultrasound evaluations for sacral dimples in neonates: Earlier may not be better

Hyun Hae Cho, So Mi Lee, Sun Kyoung You

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives—A spinal ultrasound (US) evaluation during the immediate postnatal period may have limited ability in evaluating filum thickness because of the spinal cord pulsation caused by a crowded subarachnoid space and the cerebrospi-nal fluid deficiency during this period. This study aimed to determine the optimal timing of spinal US to evaluate sacral dimples in neonates. Methods—This study included 585 neonates who had a clinically suspicious sacral dimple and underwent spinal US examinations between January 2015 and August 2017. Patients were classified into 1 of 2 groups based on whether measurements of all parameters were possible (group A) or not (group B). Neonatal and maternal clinical factors, including the antenatal history and US parameters, were compared between groups. Results—Group A included 443 patients, and group B included 82. Patients in group B were significantly younger (6.2 versus 31.0 days), had a younger corrective age (38.9 versus 42.5 weeks), and had a smaller body weight (3.1 versus 4.6 kg) than those in group A (all P < .005). However, no statistically significant differences were found in other patient or maternal factors (P > .05 for all). The pulsation of the conus medullaris and nerve roots of the cauda equina (14.6% versus 100%), thickening and echogenicity of the filum terminale (2.4% versus 100%), and the presence of a normal subarachnoid space (18.3% versus 100%) were significantly more difficult to detect in group B than in group A (all P < .001). Conclusions—For an accurate evaluation, which can reduce unnecessary confusion and costs, spinal US can be delayed until neonates grow beyond 31 days, with a corrected age of older than 42.5 weeks and body weight of greater than 4.6 kg.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1241-1247
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Ultrasound in Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine.


  • Dimple
  • Neonate
  • Pediatrics
  • Spinal ultrasound


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