US of the spinal cord in newborns: spectrum of normal findings, variants, congenital anomalies, and acquired diseases

Radiographics. 2000 Jul-Aug;20(4):923-38. doi: 10.1148/radiographics.20.4.g00jl06923.


Ultrasonography (US) of the spinal cord is performed in newborns with signs of spinal disease (cutaneous lesions of the back, deformities of the spinal column, neurologic disturbances, suspected spinal cord injury due to traumatic birth, and syndromes with associated spinal cord compression). The examination is performed with high-frequency linear- and curved-array transducers in the sagittal and axial planes from the craniocervical junction to the sacrum. Normal variants such as transient dilatation of the central canal and ventriculus terminalis can be demonstrated with US. US allows detection of congenital malformations, such as myelocele or myelomeningocele, spinal lipoma, dorsal dermal sinus, tight filum terminale syndrome, diastematomyelia, terminal myelocystocele, lateral meningocele, caudal regression syndrome, and hydromyelia or syringomyelia. Acquired intraspinal diseases following birth trauma and transient alterations after lumbar puncture can also be detected with US. US can demonstrate the entire spectrum of intraspinal anatomy and pathologic conditions with high geometric resolution. Therefore, US should be considered the initial imaging modality of choice for investigating the spinal cord in newborns.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Birth Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lipoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Meningomyelocele / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Canal / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Cord / abnormalities
  • Spinal Cord / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spinal Cord Compression / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / congenital
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / congenital
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Cord Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Puncture / adverse effects
  • Syringomyelia / diagnostic imaging
  • Transducers
  • Ultrasonography