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Multiple-site neural tube defects complicated by multiple-site split cord malformations and thickened filum terminale: experience at a pediatric neurosurgical teaching hospital in Ethiopia. Illustrative case

Mestet Yibeltal Shiferaw, Yemisirach Bizuneh Akililu, Bethelehem Yesehak Worku, Tsegazeab Laeke T/Mariam, and Abenezer Tirsit Aklilu


Multiple-site open neural tube defects (MNTDs) and multiple-site split cord malformations (MSCMs) are extremely rare congenital anomalies that are defined by the simultaneous noncontiguous occurrence of more than one neural tube defect (NTD) and split cord malformation (SCM), respectively, in a single case with normal neural tissue in between. This work shows the cooccurrence of MNTDs and MSCMs, which has never been reported in the literature.


A single-stage repair for a 13-day-old female neonate with a preoperative diagnosis of MNTDs (thoracic meningocele and thoracolumbar myelomeningocele) plus an additional intraoperative diagnosis of MSCMs (type 3c) of thoracic and thoracolumbar spine, and thickened filum terminale was done with a favorable smooth postoperative course.


The use of intraoperative meticulous surgical technique along with preoperative skin stigmata helped for anticipation, detection, and treatment of associated complex spinal MNTDs, especially in resource-limited settings, where preoperative magnetic resonance imaging is not routinely used. Whether to repair the MNTDs as a single- versus multiple-stage procedure is mainly a function of the patient’s tolerance to the duration of anesthesia and the anticipated blood loss for the patient’s age. The overall developmental biology and long-term clinical outcome of MNTDs compared to single NTD/SCM is poorly understood and needs further study.