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Cranial Ultrasound

What To Think About

  • Because ultrasound cannot penetrate bone, cranial ultrasound can be performed only on babies whose skull (cranial) bones have not yet grown together. But duplex Doppler ultrasound can be done to evaluate blood flow in the brain in children and adults. To learn more, see the topic Doppler Ultrasound.
  • Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is not usually detectable until several weeks after birth. For this reason, cranial ultrasound is generally done 4 to 8 weeks after delivery. Because cranial ultrasound may find suspicious areas in the brain that may or may not be PVL, ultrasound testing may be repeated over several weeks. Babies with PVL or intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) may develop normally or may have varying levels of disability, including cerebral palsy or an intellectual disability.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning may be done instead of cranial ultrasound to evaluate PVL or IVH in babies born prematurely. To learn more, see the topic Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Head.
  • Fetal ultrasound is used during pregnancy to view a developing baby (fetus) and the placenta. To learn more about ultrasound during pregnancy, see the topic Fetal Ultrasound.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Sloan MA, et al. (2004). Assessment: Transcranial Doppler ultrasonography. Report of the Therapeutics and Technology Assessment Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology, 62(9): 1468–1481. Also available online: http://neurology.org/content/62/9/1468.full.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerHoward Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology
Last RevisedNovember 29, 2012
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 29, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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