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Nishit Mummareddy, Michael C. Dewan, Anna Huang, Jade Basem, Kelly A. Bennett, Chevis N. Shannon and John C. Wellons III


The Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS) established several important benefits of myelomeningocele fetal closure, including decreased need for shunting at 30 months. However, the effects of fetal closure on long-term quality of life (QOL) have not been studied. In this study, the authors aimed to analyze the differences in long-term QOL between children treated with intrauterine repair and those treated with postnatal repair.


Caregivers of children treated with either intrauterine or postnatal closure at a tertiary acute care hospital between 1997 and 2003 were contacted to participate. The Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL 4.0) and a surgical history questionnaire were administered over the phone. Responses to the QOL survey were reverse scored and linearly transformed to a 0–100 scale, with a higher score indicating better QOL. The Mann-Whitney U-test was used to analyze differences in means.


Seventy-four children had MMC repair between 1997 and 2003. Twenty-three (31%) of the patients’ families responded to the PedsQL 4.0 questionnaire. Of these 23 children, 11 had intrauterine closure and 12 had postnatal closure. The intrauterine group did not differ in age (median [IQR] 17 years [14–17 years] vs 15 years [14–19 years], p = 0.926), sex (27.3% vs 41.7% male, p = 0.469), or lesion level (p = 0.199) from the postnatal group. Fewer patients in the intrauterine group underwent neurosurgical procedures than those in the postnatal group (55.6% vs 100%, p = 0.018). However, of the children receiving neurosurgical procedures, there was no difference in the number of procedures between the intrauterine and postnatal groups (median [IQR] 4 [2–10.5] vs 2.5 [1.75–6.25], p = 0.458). There was no difference in the percentage of children receiving nonneurosurgical procedures between the two groups (100% vs 100%, p > 0.99). Children who underwent intrauterine closure had significantly higher psychosocial health (median [IQR] 70.0 [56.7–83.3] vs 55.0 [42.1–60.0], p = 0.015) as well as total QOL (median [IQR] 56.5 [55.4–81.5] vs 49.5 [32.9–59.0], p = 0.019) than children with postnatal closure. Physical health was not significantly different between the two groups (median [IQR] 62.5 [37.5–78.1] vs 39.1 [18.8–59.4], p = 0.108).


Relative to postnatal closure, children who underwent intrauterine closure of MMC demonstrated better long-term QOL as measured by psychosocial and overall QOL metrics. Given that not all medical and socioeconomic confounders were adjusted for due to the low sample size, validation of these results in a larger population and across multiple centers is needed.

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Kelly A. Bennett, Mary Anne Carroll, Chevis N. Shannon, Stephane A. Braun, Mary E. Dabrowiak, Alicia K. Crum, Ray L. Paschall, Ann L. Kavanaugh-McHugh, John C. Wellons III and Noel B. Tulipan


As more pediatric neurosurgeons become involved with fetal myelomeningocele closure efforts, examining refined techniques in the overall surgical approach that could maximize beneficial outcomes becomes critical. The authors compared outcomes for patients who had undergone a modified technique with those for patients who had undergone fetal repair as part of the earlier Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS).


Demographic and outcomes data were collected for a series of 43 delivered patients who had undergone in utero myelomeningocele closure at the Fetal Center at Vanderbilt from March 2011 through January 2013 (the study cohort) and were compared with data for 78 patients who had undergone fetal repair as part of MOMS (the MOMS cohort). For the study cohort, no uterine trocar was used, and uterine entry, manipulation, and closure were modified to minimize separation of the amniotic membrane. Weekly ultrasound reports were obtained from primary maternal–fetal medicine providers and reviewed. A test for normality revealed that distribution for the study cohort was normal; therefore, parametric statistics were used for comparisons.


The incidence of premature rupture of membranes (22% vs 46%, p = 0.011) and chorioamnion separation (0% vs 26%, p < 0.001) were lower for the study cohort than for the MOMS cohort. Incidence of oligohydramnios did not differ between the cohorts. The mean (± SD) gestational age of 34.4 (± 6.6) weeks for the study cohort was similar to that for the MOMS cohort (34.1 ± 3.1 weeks). However, the proportion of infants born at term (37 weeks or greater) was significantly higher for the study cohort (16 of 41; 39%) than for the MOMS cohort (16 of 78; 21%) (p = 0.030). Compared with 10 (13%) of 78 patients in the MOMS cohort, only 2 (4%) of 41 infants in the study cohort were delivered earlier than 30 weeks of gestation (p = 0.084, approaching significance). For the study cohort, 2 fetal deaths were attributed to the intervention, and both were believed to be associated with placental disruption; one of these mothers had previously unidentified thrombophilia. Mortality rates did not statistically differ between the cohorts.


These early results suggest that careful attention to uterine entry, manipulation, and closure by the surgical team can result in a decreased rate of premature rupture of membranes and chorioamnion separation and can reduce early preterm delivery. Although these results are promising, their confirmation will require further study of a larger series of patients.