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  • By Author: Wellons, John C. x
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Jeffrey P. Blount, R. Shane Tubbs, Mamehri Okor, Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara, John C. Wellons III, Paul A. Grabb and W. Jerry Oakes

Object

The authors describe the technique of transecting the spinal cord in children born with myelomeningocele who have undergone multiple detherings and are functionally paraplegic.

Methods

The authors' technique involves identifying the neural placode and sectioning the normal spinal cord just superior to this site. No postoperative complications have been identified in 14 patients undergoing this procedure over an 11-year period. No patient at last follow up was found to have symptoms referable to a tethered spinal cord. The advantage of this procedure is to excise the normally pia-coated cord, which is unlikely to retether compared with the neural placode, which is often covered with scar tissue and does not have a well-formed pial surface—hence, predisposing it to frequent dorsal adhesions.

Conclusions

The authors believe that this technique is of benefit in a small, carefully selected group of myelodys-plastic patients with repetitive tethering of the spinal cord.

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R. Shane Tubbs, Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey P. Blount and W. Jerry Oakes

✓The authors present three cases of infants born with myelodysplasia. Each infant underwent closure of a myelomeningocele and within 2 to 4 days placement of a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt. In each case, on opening the peritoneal cavity, the authors observed egress of a dark or creamy dark fluid. None of the patients had a history of abdominal birth trauma. The decision was made to continue the procedures and send samples of the unusual fluids to the laboratory for culture and analysis. The cultures proved to be nondiagnostic and the characteristics of the fluid samples were most consistent with those of blood-tinged chyle. The authors hypothesize that, occasionally, the mechanical tautness that is created with repair of myelomeningoceles is sufficient to rupture small lymphatic vessels and accompanying blood vessels of the abdomen. An alternative hypothesis is that abdominal compression due to closure of the myelomeningocele may temporarily compress the liver, leading to raised intraportal pressures and resulting in weeping of chyle from the gastrointestinal tract. This abnormal fluid accumulation did not lead to chronic ascites, VP shunt infection, or dysfunction at long-term follow-up examination and abdominal visceral function has not been an issue.