Context: Palpatory skills are a central part of osteopathic manipulative treatment and palpatory diagnosis. The aim of osteopathic structural examination is to locate somatic dysfunction and cranial strain pattern, which are the hallmarks that form the basis for treatment decisions and strategy. In the osteopathic literature, there is a lack of studies evaluating preterm or term newborns during hospitalization.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of somatic dysfunction and cranial strain pattern in a population of preterm and term newborns who were treated in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Methods: During a period of 6 months--November 2009 through April 2010--the authors performed a retrospective review of data on consecutive preterm and term newborns who were admitted to the NICU of the Spirito Santo Public Hospital. Osteo pathic evaluation was performed once on each newborn, and somatic dysfunction and cranial strain pattern were identified. Descriptive analysis and test of association based on the χ(2) test were performed.
Results: One hundred fifty-five preterm and term newborns met the study's eligibility criteria. The highest rate of somatic dysfunction was found in the pelvic area of 63 newborns (40.7%). The sacroiliac joints were compressed unilaterally or bilaterally in 82 newborns (52.9%); the lumbosacral junction was restricted in 61 newborns (39.4%), and intraosseous lesions of the sacral bone were diagnosed in 57 newborns (36.8%). The spine accounted for somatic dysfunction in 38 newborns (24.5%), with the middle thoracic and lower thoracic areas restricted in 29 (18.7%) and 21 (16.8%) newborns, respectively. Sphenobasilar synchondrosis compression and lateral-vertical strain were diagnosed in 57 newborns (36.8%), with the sagittal and the coronal sutures found restricted in 35 (22.6%) and 30 (19.4%) newborns, respectively. The occipital bone presented the highest rate of intraosseous lesions, with the left condyle compressed in 48 newborns (31%), the right condyle in 46 newborns (29.7%), and the squama in 38 newborns (24.5%).
Conclusion: Results showed that osteopathic findings are not secondary to gestational age and weight at birth.