What is a sacral dimple?

A sacral dimple is a small indentation (dent) in the lower back, near the crease of the buttocks. It is a congenital condition, meaning it is there when the baby is born.

Most sacral dimples do not cause any health issues. In some cases, a sacral dimple can be a sign of an underlying spinal problem. These issues are usually minor. Sometimes they can include conditions such as spina bifida or a tethered spinal cord. Spina bifida happens when the spine does not form totally in a fetus. A tethered spinal cord is one in which the spinal cord nerves grow attached to a spot on the spine. This limits the ability of the spine to move.

A pediatrician (children’s doctor) will look closely at a sacral dimple to decide if it may be a sign of a spinal issue. Based on its size and location, the doctor may order additional tests to rule out spine problems.

How common are sacral dimples?

Roughly 3 to 8 percent of babies are born with a sacral dimple.

What causes a sacral dimple?

Doctors do not know why sacral dimples appear in some people at birth.

What are the symptoms of a sacral dimple?

Sacral dimples do not have any symptoms other than the indentation itself. The dimple is typically shallow and found in or near the crease of the buttocks. In rare instances, some sacral dimples are a sign of a spine or spinal cord problems. In these cases, your doctor might refer you for further evaluation. A sacral dimple that is a sign of an accompanying spinal problem may have signs including:

  • Tuft of hair nearby
  • Skin tag (small bit of extra skin)
  • Bruising or discoloration of nearby skin

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