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Enrico Danzer, N. Scott Adzick, Natalie E. Rintoul, Deborah M. Zarnow, Erin S. Schwartz, Jeanne Melchionni, Linda M. Ernst, Alan W. Flake, Leslie N. Sutton, and Mark P. Johnson


The goal in this study was to evaluate the incidence and clinical implications of the development of cutaneously derived intradural inclusion cysts (ICs) following fetal myelomeningocele (fMMC) closure.


Retrospective databases and responses to a parental questionnaire were reviewed to determine the incidence, clinical presentation, and outcomes of fMMCs in children in whom ICs developed at follow-up.


Prior to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS), 54 patients underwent fMMC closure at the authors' institution. Sixteen (30%) presented with symptomatic tethered cord syndrome (TCS) at a median age of 27 months (range 4–93 months). Ten (63%) of the 16 (19% of the total) developed TCS in association with an intradural IC. In 9 (90%) of 10 patients, the IC was seen on preoperative MR imaging, and in 1 it was found during surgery. Four additional children (7% of the total) with evidence of an IC on surveillance MR imaging are currently asymptomatic at 94, 84, 60, and 60 months of age, respectively. All but 1 (an L-3 level lesion) IC developed in infants with L-4 and L-5 defects. After cyst removal, 6 children are asymptomatic at a median follow-up of 36 months (range 12–63 months). Following IC removal, 4 children lost normal bladder function and now require clean intermittent catheterization, and 1 lost normal leg function and now requires a walking aid for ambulation. Histologically, 8 lesions were dermoid, 1 was an epidermoid, and 1 was a mixed dermoid-epidermoid IC. Three patients developed another IC and required its removal at 24, 39, and 51 months, respectively. One required another tethered cord release within 57 months after IC removal.


Cutaneously derived intradural ICs can develop following fMMC surgery. Deterioration of bladder function, risk of recurrence, and loss of lower-extremity function appear to be the most important long-term complications of IC in children with fMMCs. The ongoing NIH-sponsored MOMS may help determine whether children with fMMC are at increased risk of IC development compared with children treated with postnatal MMC closure. Parents seeking fMMC closure should be informed about the possibility of IC formation and the potential clinical consequences.

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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


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.


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.


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.


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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Noel Tulipan, John C. Wellons III, Elizabeth A. Thom, Nalin Gupta, Leslie N. Sutton, Pamela K. Burrows, Diana Farmer, William Walsh, Mark P. Johnson, Larry Rand, Susan Tolivaisa, Mary E. D’alton, and N. Scott Adzick


The Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS) was a multicenter randomized trial comparing the safety and efficacy of prenatal and postnatal closure of myelomeningocele. The trial was stopped early because of the demonstrated efficacy of prenatal surgery, and outcomes on 158 of 183 pregnancies were reported. Here, the authors update the 1-year outcomes for the complete trial, analyze the primary and related outcomes, and evaluate whether specific prerandomization risk factors are associated with prenatal surgery benefit.


The primary outcome was a composite of fetal loss or any of the following: infant death, CSF shunt placement, or meeting the prespecified criteria for shunt placement. Primary outcome, actual shunt placement, and shunt revision rates for prenatal versus postnatal repair were compared. The shunt criteria were reassessed to determine which were most concordant with practice, and a new composite outcome was created from the primary outcome by replacing the original criteria for CSF shunt placement with the revised criteria. The authors used logistic regression to estimate whether there were interactions between the type of surgery and known prenatal risk factors (lesion level, gestational age, degree of hindbrain herniation, and ventricle size) for shunt placement, and to determine which factors were associated with shunting among those infants who underwent prenatal surgery.


Ninety-one women were randomized to prenatal surgery and 92 to postnatal repair. The primary outcome occurred in 73% of infants in the prenatal surgery group and in 98% in the postnatal group (p < 0.0001). Actual rates of shunt placement were only 44% and 84% in the 2 groups, respectively (p < 0.0001). The authors revised the most commonly met criterion to require overt clinical signs of increased intracranial pressure, defined as split sutures, bulging fontanelle, or sunsetting eyes, in addition to increasing head circumference or hydrocephalus. Using these modified criteria, only 3 patients in each group met criteria but did not receive a shunt. For the revised composite outcome, there was a difference between the prenatal and postnatal surgery groups: 49.5% versus 87.0% (p < 0.0001). There was also a significant reduction in the number of children who had a shunt placed and then required a revision by 1 year of age in the prenatal group (15.4% vs 40.2%, relative risk 0.38 [95% CI 0.22–0.66]). In the prenatal surgery group, 20% of those with ventricle size < 10 mm at initial screening, 45.2% with ventricle size of 10 up to 15 mm, and 79.0% with ventricle size ≥ 15 mm received a shunt, whereas in the postnatal group, 79.4%, 86.0%, and 87.5%, respectively, received a shunt (p = 0.02). Lesion level and degree of hindbrain herniation appeared to have no effect on the eventual need for shunting (p = 0.19 and p = 0.13, respectively). Similar results were obtained for the revised outcome.


Larger ventricles at initial screening are associated with an increased need for shunting among those undergoing fetal surgery for myelomeningocele. During prenatal counseling, care should be exercised in recommending prenatal surgery when the ventricles are 15 mm or larger because prenatal surgery does not appear to improve outcome in this group. The revised criteria may be useful as guidelines for treating hydrocephalus in this group.