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  • Author or Editor: N. Scott Adzick x
  • Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics x
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Eric M. Jackson, Daniel M. Schwartz, Anthony K. Sestokas, Deborah M. Zarnow, N. Scott Adzick, Mark P. Johnson, Gregory G. Heuer, and Leslie N. Sutton

Object

Fetal myelomeningocele closure has been shown to be advantageous in a number of areas. In this study, the authors report on neural function in patients who had previously undergone fetal myelomeningocele repair and returned to the authors' institution for further surgery that included intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed data obtained in 6 cases involving patients who underwent fetal myelomeningocele repair and later returned to their institution for spinal cord untethering. (In 4 of the 6 cases, the patients also underwent removal of a dermoid cyst [3 cases] or removal of an epidermoid cyst [1 case] during the untethering procedure.) Records and imaging studies were reviewed to identify the anatomical level of the myelomeningocele as well as the functional status of each patient. Stimulated electromyography (EMG) and transcranial motor evoked potential (tcMEP) recordings obtained during surgery were reviewed to assess the functional integrity of the nerve roots and spinal cord.

Results

During reexploration, all patients had reproducible signals at or below their anatomical level on stimulated EMG and tcMEP recordings. Corresponding to these findings, prior to tethering, all patients had antigravity muscle function below their anatomical level.

Conclusions

All 6 patients had lower-extremity function and neurophysiological monitoring recording signals at or below their anatomical level. These cases provide direct evidence of spinal cord and nerve root conductivity and functionality below the anatomical level of the myelomeningocele, further supporting that neurological status improves with fetal repair.

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Ryan A. Grant, Gregory G. Heuer, Geneive M. Carrión, N. Scott Adzick, Erin S. Schwartz, Sherman C. Stein, Phillip B. Storm, and Leslie N. Sutton

Object

Myelomeningocele (MMC) is characterized by a defect in caudal neurulation and appears at birth with a constellation of neuroanatomical abnormalities, including Chiari malformation Type II. The authors investigated the effects of antenatal versus postnatal repair of MMC through a quantitative analysis of morphometric changes in the posterior fossa (PF).

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of 29 patients who underwent in utero MMC repair, 24 patients who underwent postnatal repair, and 114 fetal and pediatric controls. Tonsillar displacement, cerebellum length, pons length, clivus-supraocciput (CSO) angle, and PF area were compared in antenatal and postnatal MMC repair groups as well as in controls without neural tube defects by using t-tests and correlation coefficients.

Results

Initially, the in utero CSO angle was significantly more acute in all patients with MMC—prenatally and postnatally repaired—as compared with controls (57.8° vs 75.4°, p < 0.001); however, the angle rapidly changed and became similar to that in controls between 30 and 31 weeks' gestation to approximately 80°, with antenatal repair having little effect. Postnatally, the CSO angle decreased in controls (R = −0.58) and in the antenatal repair group (R = −0.17). The cerebellum and pons length demonstrated no significant differences in any group. Overall, tonsil descent was corrected in the antenatal repair group as compared with postnatal repair (p < 0.001), and the PF area increased in all 3 groups in utero. Growth was less rapid in patients with MMC compared with controls, but this was corrected by antenatal repair (p = 0.015).

Conclusions

Myelomeningocele was associated with tonsillar herniation and a smaller PF than in control fetuses. Antenatal surgical repair corrected both abnormalities. The CSO angle began significantly more acutely in patients with MMC, but normalized with development regardless of when surgery was performed. Determining the clinical effects of antenatal repair requires further follow-up.