Why It Is Done
In babies, cranial ultrasound usually is only done:
- As part of routine screening of babies born
prematurely to detect bleeding in the brain, such as intraventricular
- To monitor any complications or to look for
periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). IVH and PVL increase a baby's risk of
developing disabilities, including cerebral palsy or
an intellectual disability.
- To screen for brain problems that may be present
from birth (such as congenital hydrocephalus).
- To evaluate an
- To look for infection or abnormal growths in or
around the brain.
In adults, cranial ultrasound may be done during brain
surgery to help locate a brain mass.
How To Prepare
No special preparation is required
before having this test.
If an older baby is having the test, it
may help to have the baby be a little hungry. The baby can be fed during the
test, which will help the baby to be comforted and to hold still during the
How It Is Done
This test is done by a doctor who
specializes in interpreting imaging tests (radiologist) or
by an ultrasound technologist (sonographer) who is supervised by a radiologist.
For a baby, cranial ultrasound may be done at your baby's bedside in the
neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). With the baby lying on his or her back,
the transducer is moved across the soft spot (fontanelle) on top of the head.
You may be asked to hold your baby during the test. Pictures of the brain and
inner fluid chambers (ventricles) can be seen on a video monitor.
For an adult, cranial ultrasound is done during brain surgery to help
find a brain mass.
A cranial ultrasound usually takes 15 to 30
How It Feels
There is usually no discomfort involved
with having a cranial ultrasound test. Unless the gel is first warmed to body
temperature, it may feel cold when it is put on the skin.
There are no known risks linked with a
cranial ultrasound test.