Screening for Spinal Dysraphisms in Newborns With Sacral Dimples

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Sacral dimples are common physical examination findings among newborns and are rarely associated with spinal dysraphism. Screening ultrasonography for simple sacral dimples in the absence of other physical findings leads to unnecessary health care costs and undue stress on families. This study was a retrospective chart review of infants with a sacral dimple on examination who underwent spinal ultrasonography in the first week of life. The documented indication for ultrasonography was compared to standard guidelines. Among 151 infants in the study, 80% had a normal spinal ultrasound. Of infants with abnormal ultrasonography, 7 (5%) had abnormal spinal magnetic resonance imaging and 2 infants (1%) required neurosurgical intervention. Our study revealed that nearly one-third of infants who underwent spinal ultrasonography had a simple sacral dimple and low likelihood of spinal dysraphism according to existing guidelines. Among patients who underwent spinal ultrasonography in accordance with guidelines, only a small percentage required neurosurgical intervention indicating that guidelines may need to be revised. Larger studies involving multiple centers are necessary to assess this need.

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