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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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John S. Riley, Ryan M. Antiel, Alan W. Flake, Mark P. Johnson, Natalie E. Rintoul, John D. Lantos, Michael D. Traynor Jr., N. Scott Adzick, Chris Feudtner, and Gregory G. Heuer

OBJECTIVE

The Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS) compared prenatal with postnatal surgery for myelomeningocele (MMC). The present study sought to determine how MOMS influenced the clinical recommendations of pediatric neurosurgeons, how surgeons’ risk tolerance affected their views, how their views compare to those of their colleagues in other specialties, and how their management of hydrocephalus compares to the guidelines used in the MOMS trial.

METHODS

A cross-sectional survey was sent to all 154 pediatric neurosurgeons in the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons. The effect of surgeons’ risk tolerance on opinions and counseling of prenatal closure was determined by using ordered logistic regression.

RESULTS

Compared to postnatal closure, 71% of responding pediatric neurosurgeons viewed prenatal closure as either “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable,” and 51% reported being more likely to recommend prenatal surgery in light of MOMS. Compared to pediatric surgeons, neonatologists, and maternal-fetal medicine specialists, pediatric neurosurgeons viewed prenatal MMC repair less favorably (p < 0.001). Responders who believed the surgical risks were high were less likely to view prenatal surgery favorably and were also less likely to recommend prenatal surgery (p < 0.001). The management of hydrocephalus was variable, with 60% of responders using endoscopic third ventriculostomy in addition to ventriculoperitoneal shunts.

CONCLUSIONS

The majority of pediatric neurosurgeons have a favorable view of prenatal surgery for MMC following MOMS, although less so than in other specialties. The reported acceptability of surgical risks was strongly predictive of prenatal counseling. Variation in the management of hydrocephalus may impact outcomes following prenatal closure.