Because of their special characteristics and anatomic relationship, the osseous structures of the fetal head and spine have been described separately. The present chapter deals with the sonographic features of the sternum, ribs, clavicle, scapula, upper extremity, pelvis, and lower extremity. As these bones acquire ossification centers, they become increasingly accessible to sonographic examination. Purely cartilaginous structures also can be delineated by ultrasound (e.g., the condyles of the long bones, Figs. 10.16 and 10.31), but in the earlier stages only the ossified portions of the fetal skeleton are directly visible. Table 10.1 shows a list of the individual bones along with the earliest times at which they could be detected in our studies. It should be noted that the times of appearance of these bones become earlier with each new generation of scanner. As resolution improves, it becomes possible to identify areas of very low sonodensity, as long as their acoustic impedance contrasts with that of surrounding tissues. Thus, data on the times of appearance of ossification centers on sonograms are in no way comparable to radiologic data. Fetal ossification centers provide conspicuous landmarks for sonographic examination. Knowledge of the times of appearance of the different ossification centers and of their topographic relations and dimensions provide an important basis for orientation. Skeletal structures are also gaining increasing importance as sources of biometric data.


Ossification Center Fetal Head Sonographic Examination Proximal Phalange Simultaneous Visualization 
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Chapter 10

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alf Staudach
    • 1
  1. 1.LandesfrauenklinikLandeskrankenanstalten SalzburgSalzburgAustria

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