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Sacral Dimple

A sacral dimple or sacral pit is an indentation or little hole in the crease between the buttocks and the base of the tailbone. This dimple generally develops as the spinal column is forming inside the mother's womb. If the inner tissues of the neural tube that forms the spinal column become malformed during development, then the outside layer of tissue, including the skin, may not be flat or smooth. This could mean that the outside layer formed with some dimples in it, which have no effect on the inner layers. Or, there could be a malformation of the inner layers, which has no effect on the outer layers. So a dimple in the lower back along the spine may be a harmless indentation in the skin, or it may be a sign of a defect in the lower tissue layers, that involves the spine and spinal cord. Most sacral dimples are harmless. However, some sacral pits continue deep inside and may even connect to the spinal canal, colon or large intestine. In the latter case, bits of stool can leak out through the opening, causing a chronic rash. This type of dimple needs to be closed. Other signs that may indicate an abnormality in the lower spine include large or deep sacral dimples or dimples that are covered by hair or a birthmark. Most spinal cord defects signaled by a sacral dimple can be diagnosed via a thorough physical exam and, if needed, an ultrasound or MRI. If these tests detect a problem affecting the spinal cord, your child may require surgery. If you notice a deep or an unusual-looking sacral dimple on your infant, be sure to discuss it with your pediatrician. Some things your pediatrician will look for include: · Any changes in the dimple? · Any drainage from the dimple? · Any numbness or loss of movement in the legs? This could indicate neurological involvement. · Can the floor of the pit or dimple be seen easily? When the bottom portion of a dimple can't be seen, this may be an indication of a neural tube that never closed completely. · Does the pit have hair growing from it? This may indicate deeper involvement. · How high or low is the dimple? Dimples very low on the back (just above the buttocks) are of little concern. The higher the dimple, the more likely it is to be problematic. · Are there signs of any other defects? If there are abnormalities in other parts of the body, it is more likely that the neural tube may be involved, as well. After doing an exam, your child's doctor will discuss what, if any, treatment is needed.

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Your child's physician is an excellent source of information about this and other child health topics. This information is of a general nature and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician. Tips to Grow ByTM is a public service of Akron Children's Hospital. To receive an order form, please call 330-543-8760. Photocopying of Tips to Grow ByTM is prohibited. Photocopied TipsTM may contain outdated information. If you received a photocopy of this TipTM, please call 330-543-8760.

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SI740 © 03/11

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