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

Weekly Support Programs

Brain Wellness: Yoga for Kids

Participants will learn to optimize neurological potential across the developing age and care continuum, to provide other treatment modalities to optimize results, to provide options for our patients and families, to provide options for our patients and families, and more! Learn more.

From the Newsdesk

Mason's Story: Nicklaus Children's Makes the Difference for Child with Traumatic Brain Injury
Seeing a baby boy intubated, hooked up to a maze of machines, and with IV pumps snaking out of his tiny arms is an incredibly heartbreaking and terrifying experience. The Nicklaus Children’s staff was not only caring and friendly, but knowledgeable and explained everything to us in detail. Meeting the neurosurgery team brought us great comfort because they were confident and calm—they won our trust immediately.
Talkin' Kids Health: Individual Education Plans
Learn about Individual Education Plans with Dr. Reshma Naidoo, Neuropsychologist and Neurorehabilitation Specialist at Nicklaus Children's Hosptial.