Fetal cranial structures are a bit intimidating to assess if you are not familiar with their sonographic appearance, especially in evaluating fetuses in the 2nd trimester, when structures are very, very small with the cranial diameter ranging from 2cm to 3cm. Add to this challenge the anechoic to hypoechoic properties of nearly all the sub-cranial anatomy, and you can appreciate the challenges distinct to fetal cranial sonography.
The ability to recognize both normal and abnormal congenital development is critical for early identification of pathologies. Because fetal cranial abnormalities are atypical (average occurrence of less than 1 in 100), many sonographers do not gain the experience and familiarity with these conditions unless their practice area is intensely prenatal.
Specific structures discussed and identified are the following:
Lateral Ventricles Choroid Plexus/Atria Falx Cavum Septum Pellucidum
Thalamus Cerebellum Cisterna Magna
I have written previously about the importance of specialization in advancing your ultrasound career. With regard to fetal specialization for sonographers, there is a level of expertise that carries a higher burden. At the same time, the compensation for sonographers with a fetal specialization is typically above the top 75th percentile in industry salary ranges. Additionally, having the experience and confidence to properly consult with both medical professionals and prospective parents can be very rewarding.
Here are links to previous Quick Concepts relating to Ob/Gyn or prenatal scanning:
–Frank Miele, MSEE , President of Pegasus Lectures, Inc. Frank graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College with a triple major in physics, mathematics, and engineering. While at Dartmouth, he was a Proctor Scholar and received citations for academic excellence in comparative literature, atomic physics and quantum mechanics, and real analysis. Frank was a research and design engineer and project leader, designing ultrasound equipment and electronics for more than ten years at Hewlett Packard Company. As a designer of ultrasound, he has lectured across the country to sonographers, physicians, engineers and students on myriad topics.