Cranial ultrasound is mainly used to examine infants where their skull has not formed completely. Because ultrasound does not use radiation, it is completely non-intrusive and safe. Using a Doppler, physicians can examine the child’s brain, and its major arteries, as well as the cerebrospinal fluid.
Unlike other examinations, there is no need for the child to prepare in a specific way, which will help keep them relaxed during the procedure. These are some things to know about a cranial ultrasound.
Babies & Cerebral
Cranial ultrasound is used primarily for infants because their skulls have not properly formed, allowing the ultrasound waves access to the brain. Ultrasound does not travel through bone effectively enough to provide results that a doctor can be confident with. Ultrasound is used during operations on people of all ages to determine blood flow in the cerebral arteries.
Common uses for the procedure include hydrocephalus, bleeding on the brain, periventricular leukomalacia and to determine the site of a tumor. The ultrasound can find where the large masses of abnormal tissue is and help guide the doctors to its safe removal. Because the brain is so delicate, this type of procedure helps to reduce significantly the number of accidents that occur during an operation. A transcranial Doppler can also be used to assess the risk of an adult suffering from stroke, and the narrowing of blood vessels, or sections of blood vessels bringing blood to the brain.
The equipment used in a cranial exam is much the same as in an ultrasound exam performed elsewhere on the body. The transducer, held by the doctor or radiologist is placed on the head of the patient to take the images. Should the ultrasound scan be required during surgery, a section of the skull will be removed in order that the sonar waves can properly penetrate the brain to provide accurate images of any tissue mass, and to enable the surgeon to carry out the operation with accuracy.
The Process Itself
Assuming the use in a non-surgical examination, a cranial ultrasound is painless. There may be different noises heard depending on the areas being examined, especially when examining blood flow to the brain. The results are usually available immediately in the form of images on the doctor’s computer. This means that any diagnosis can be carried out straight away, and the patient can be given a full consultation without having to wait. The results are also saved to the patients’ medical history, so ongoing scans can be recorded and compared over time, evaluating the changes, and the effectiveness of any treatments.
Cranial ultrasound has meant that everyone can benefit, regardless of age. Because of its high level of safety, it is an ideal tool for use during the treatment of infants, leaving no marks or side effects. Immediate results from an examination lead to better patient care, as they no longer have to wait and worry about the potential outcomes from other, more time-consuming examinations.