Ultrasound screening of babies

Ultrasound screening of infants is applied to detect their potential various development disorders – as early as possible. This will make the early intervention feasible, aiming to avoid or reduce the possibility of later occurring permanent damages. In an ideal situation infants from 6-8 weeks of age are recommended to ungergo a cranial, abdominal and hip ultrasound screening.


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Cranial ultrasound screening

By cranial screening the infant’s brain can be examined through the large fontanelle on the skull. By ultrasound screening method part of the brain can be brought into vision and by means of this screening certain developmental disorders, a part of the intracranial hemorrhages appeared at birth and other abnormalities like ventricular dilatation can be detected and followed up. Part of the discrepancies that may be detected necessitate further neurological or additional imaging check-ups (MR screening) while for others, ultrasound follow up examination is sufficient.

Cranial ultrasound (head) screening is especially important for premature infants since they may suffer from more frequent complications like stroke or other types of brain damage.

Cranial ultrasound is not painful, therefore it can be perfectly applied in pediatrics since painless condition is now an essential part of the diagnosis process of children. It is a fast, adequate and accurate screening method without any harmful effect even on the child’s developing organism, so it can be carried out at any age.

As the infant grows the large fontanelle gradually narrows and finally closes at 12-18 months of age. By passing the age of 6 months, if the large fontanelle is already narrow, the baby’s head can be examined by ultrasound to a limited extent only, but in certain cases the performed screening can give additional information up to the age of 12 months.


Abdominal ultrasound examination

By an abdominal ultrasound examination we principally screen the abdominal organs (liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys and adrenal glands), as well as certain disorders and irregularities of the bowels, stomach and  bladder. During an ultrasound screening the child’s abdominal organs are examined with the same accuracy and detail similarly to the execution of later age abdominal check-ups (for the detailed desciption of this process see the section Abdominal and pelvic ultrasound examination in childhood).


Examination of the hip

Ultrasound screening of the hip joint is helpful in diagnosing a suspected congenital hip dislocation (dysplasia). From 6 weeks of age by determining/measuring the so-called Graf angles we can recognize the abnormal condition and determine the severity of the disorder. This screening is not worth performing in the first month of the newborn’s life because at this age the infant, as well as his/her tissues and joints, grow and mature very fast. After 4 months of age, due to the starting ossification of the femoral head, measurements by ultrasound become challenging. For this reason and in order to make an intervention at the earliest opportunity possible, it is recommended to carry out the screening examination before the 4 months of age.

We can speak about a hip dislocation (dysplasia) when a „shallow” socket of the hip joint does not adequately cover the femoral head. As a consequence, the femoral head may slip out of the joint more often and more easily (especially when the child has already stood up). In the case of a mild dysplasia, owing to the higher force put on the load-bearing joints, early arthrosis or wear and tear disease of the joints will develop.

By starting an early therapy (already in the baby’s 2nd month of age) we can eliminate or minimize these later complications.



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