Myelomeningocele

Also known as: spina bifida

What is myelomeningocele?

A myelomeningocele is a bulge or sac of the fluid that surround the spinal cord. It's usually seen in the lower back, and results from a congenital defect in the closing of the babys' bony spinal column (vertebral column).

Spina bifida refers to the specific gap in the bony spinal column that protects the spinal cord.


What causes myelomeningocele?

The cause of myelomeningocele isn't entirely clear. It appears to be caused by some combination of genetic factors and environmental exposures. Lack of folic acid in the diet of pregnant women, antiseizure medications, obesity and poorly controlled diabetes all appear to increase the risk.


What are the symptoms of myelomeningocele?

There are three main types of myelomeningocele. Depending on the severity of the type, symptoms can vary from minimal, to difficulties in bladder and bowel control, hydrocephalus (increased collection of fluid in the brain), difficulties in walking and various other complications.


What are myelomeningocele care options?

While there is no cure for the nerve damage that occurs with myelomeningoceles, standard treatment is surgery after delivery (surgical treatment during pregnancy is another possibility). After birth, most infants/children will need a team of specialists to provide best long-term care.


Reviewed by: Gregory W Hornig, MD

This page was last updated on: 9/13/2018 3:43:44 PM

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