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Incidence of cranial ultrasound abnormalities in apparently well neonates on a postnatal ward: correlation with antenatal and perinatal factors and neurological status
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Abstract

AIM To evaluate cranial ultrasonography and neurological examination in a cohort of infants regarded as normal; and to determine the prevalence of ultrasound abnormalities and any potential association with antenatal or perinatal factors or deviant neurological signs.

METHODS Cranial ultrasound findings and neurological status were evaluated in 177 newborns (gestational age 36.3 to 42 weeks), admitted to a postnatal ward directly after birth and regarded as normal by obstetric and paediatric staff. The age of the infants at the time of examination ranged between 6 and 48 hours. Ultrasound abnormalities were present in 35 of the 177 infants studied (20%). Ischaemic lesions, such as periventricular and thalamic densities were the most common finding (8%), followed by haemorrhagic lesions (6%). The possible sequelae of antenatal haemorrhages, such as focal ventricular dilatation or choroid cysts, were present in 6%. Abnormal ultrasound findings were not significantly associated with signs of perinatal distress, such as cardiotocographic abnormalities or passage of meconium. Abnormal ultrasound findings tended to be associated with antenatal problems, although this did not reach significance. Ultrasound abnormalities were strongly associated with deviant patterns on the neurological examination.

CONCLUSIONS These results suggest that ultrasound abnormalities are more common than has been reported up to now. Lesions that could be ischaemic, such as flare densities, are seen even in the absence of any antenatal or perinatal risk factor.

  • cranial ultrasound
  • ischaemic lesions
  • perinatal distress
  • neurological abnormalities

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