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Enrico Danzer, Linda M. Ernst, Natalie E. Rintoul, Mark P. Johnson, N. Scott Adzick, and Alan W. Flake

Object

The authors retrospectively investigated whether midgestational fetal myelomeningocele (fMMC) repair alters intrauterine meconium exposure.

Methods

Prior to the National Institutes of Health Management of Myelomeningocele Study, 54 fetuses underwent fMMC repair at the authors' institution. Forty-six fMMC sacs were available for pathological examination and 53 MMC sacs from postnatally repaired MMCs (pMMCs) were available for comparison. The presence and distribution of meconium were blindly evaluated using a grading system defined as follows: absent (no meconium present), mild (< 10 meconium-positive histiocytes [MPHs]/hpf), moderate (10–25 MPHs/hpf), and severe (> 25 MPHs/hpf). Hall's bile stain was used to confirm meconium and Prussian blue and Fontana Masson stains to exclude hemosiderin and melanin, respectively.

Results

Compared to pMMCs (79%), meconium histiocytosis was less prevalent in fMMC sacs (57%; p = 0.017). Meconium staining was completely absent in 43% of the fMMC sacs. Mild meconium histiocytosis was found in 35% fMMC and 61% pMMC sacs (p = 0.035). There was no statistical difference between groups with moderate and severe meconium histiocytosis.

Conclusions

Meconium passage in MMCs can occur early in fetal life. Fetal MMC repair may reduce the duration of meconium exposure, thereby potentially limiting the toxic injury to the vulnerable neural elements.

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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

Object

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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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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

OBJECT

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.

METHODS

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.

RESULTS

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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.

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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.

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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.

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Philippe De Vloo, Luc Joyeux, Gregory G. Heuer, N. Scott Adzick, Jan Deprest, and Frank Van Calenbergh