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.
Symptoms and Causes
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
Diagnosis and Tests
How do doctors diagnose a sacral dimple?
To diagnose a sacral dimple, a doctor does a physical exam to look at the area near the bottom of the spine. The doctor will note the size and location of the dimple.
For a sacral dimple that looks large, deep, or farther than usual from the crease of the buttocks, a doctor may order an ultrasound test. This test provides images of the spine. Doctors may also order an ultrasound if they see a skin tag, hairy patch, or bruising in the area.
Management and Treatment
What are common treatments for a sacral dimple?
Most sacral dimples do not cause any problems or need any treatment. If the sacral dimple is a sign of an underlying spinal condition such as spina bifida or a tethered spinal cord, your doctor will discuss treatment options based on the individual condition.
Can a sacral dimple be prevented?
Because sacral dimples are present at birth, it is not possible to prevent them.
Outlook / Prognosis
What are the outcomes after treatment for conditions related to a sacral dimple?
People with conditions related to a sacral dimple, such as spina bifida or a tethered spinal cord, need additional treatment. Each of those conditions has different treatments and outcomes.
What is the outlook for people with a sacral dimple?
Most people born with a sacral dimple do not have any symptoms or complications that need treatment or affect their lives.
Are there complications or side effects associated with a sacral dimple?
Most sacral dimples do not have any associated complications. Some people have extra hair growth around the dimple throughout their life. Dimples that are deeper than normal can develop infections due to trapped substances such as dirt and germs. Keeping these dimples clean can help reduce the risk of infection.