OBJECTIVE Myelomeningocele (MMC) is the most common form of spina bifida, with a lifelong impact on the quality of life for infants born with this condition. In recent decades, fetal surgery has evolved from an experimental therapy to standard of care for many centers in the world. In this study, the authors aimed to provide an overview of the current management and outcomes for infants with MMC managed at their institution. This then provides a center-specific historical cohort for comparison with future antenatal-treated MMC cases. METHODS This is a retrospective, single-institution cohort study including all consecutive MMC cases between January 1, 2000, and June 1, 2018, at Erasmus MC. Outcome data included closure of the defect (location, timing, and surgical parameters), hydrocephalus management, Chiari malformation type II (CMTII) management, incidence of spinal cord tethering and outcome, motor outcomes, and continence. RESULTS A total of 93 patients were included with predominantly lumbosacral lesions. Two patients died during followup. Hydrocephalus was present in 84%, with a 71% ventriculoperitoneal shunt reoperation rate. Surgery was performed in 12% for a tethered spinal cord at a mean age of 8 years. Decompression surgery was performed in 3 patients for CMTII. Special education in 63% was significantly associated with hydrocephalus (p < 0.015). Nineteen percent of patients were able to walk independently, and 47% were nonambulators. Social continence for urine was obtained in 75% of patients, 4% had fecal incontinence. CONCLUSIONS This study provides an overview of current MMC outcomes at the authors’ center and will serve as a historical cohort for comparison with future fetal surgery cases operated on at the center in the coming years. Apart from a relatively low surgical untethering rate, the authors’ outcome data are comparable to those in the literature. Hydrocephalus is highly prevalent in postnatally treated MMC patients; in this study as in much of the literature, hydrocephalus is correlated with a low cognitive function. Fetal surgery for MMC halves the need for shunt treatment in a select group of MMC pregnancies, constituting a major indication for us to undergo the transition to a fetal surgery center. The fetal benefits of open antenatal surgery for MMC are well established, yet long-term data on especially tethered spinal cord are eagerly awaited.

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doi.org/10.3171/2019.7.Focus19447, hdl.handle.net/1765/120553
Department of Neurosurgery

Spoor, J.K.H., Gadjradj, P.S., Eggink, A.J., Dekoninck, P.L.J., Lutters, B., Scheepe, J., … Rob De Jong, T. (2019). Contemporary management and outcome of myelomeningocele: the Rotterdam experience. NEUROSURGICAL FOCUS, 47(4). doi:10.3171/2019.7.Focus19447