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: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 4/4/2018 3:32:01 PM


Upcoming Events

Communication and Feeding Difficulties in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

This class is offered to parents and caregivers of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Learn more and register

Video

video
After Astry was born, her parents noticed that she wasn't progressing as babies typically do. She wasn't able to lift her head and she showed a lot of muscle weakness. Her pediatrician recommended they take her to see a neurologist, and so Astry's parents brought her to Nicklaus Children's Hospital.


From the Newsdesk

BWS Family Conference
07/20/2018 — This conference is designed to provide individuals with Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome (BWS) and their family’s up-to-date information about the possible aspects of BWS and their management.  
Pediatric Neurosurgeon and Chief of Surgery for Nicklaus Children’s Passes Away
05/24/2018 — The medical staff, employees and volunteers of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital mourn the passing of our esteemed Dr. Sanjiv Bhatia, a longstanding leader and dedicated champion for children with complex medical conditions and their families.