Routine ultrasound screenings during the first trimester of pregnancy produce the small, black-and-white images many parents treasure. Those ultrasounds can also help pediatric orthopedic specialists at Arkansas Children’s identify possible issues with the spine or limbs. Generally, tiny arms and legs appear on ultrasound images taken between 8 and 10 weeks of pregnancy. Major deformities or malformations of the legs, arms or spine are rare but may be visible even at this early stage. Some congenital abnormalities, like clubfeet, can be diagnosed while the child is in utero. With other conditions, specialists wait until after the baby is born to confirm diagnoses.
Prenatal orthopedic consults can identify several conditions, including:
Although prenatal ultrasounds are better than ever before, certain conditions, like hip dysplasia, might not appear in ultrasound images and are usually diagnosed after birth.
Awareness of congenital abnormalities or potential conditions benefits parents and health care providers. Many childhood orthopedic issues, like bowlegs or knock knees, often resolve on their own. Some conditions, like scoliosis or limbs of different lengths, vary in severity. For each situation, specialists at Arkansas Children’s walk caregivers through various treatment options, ranging from orthotics or prosthetics to surgery or amputation. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each treatment helps caregivers make the best decision for their family and child. Having knowledge of a condition in advance gives parents time to research and talk with other families who have raised children with similar needs. These preparations help ease uncertainties and reduce the stress of expectant parents.
Early identification of potential conditions also helps the pediatric orthopedic specialists at Arkansas Children’s gather the best care team for your child. About half of the children born with significant limb malformations, like tibial hemimelia or radial clubhand, also need treatment for other conditions related to the internal organs or the skeletal or nervous system. In those rare cases, our orthopedic specialists collaborate with a team of specialists to develop a personalized, comprehensive care plan for your child.