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Overview of the management of myelomeningocele (spina bifida)

David G McLone, MD, PhD
Robin M Bowman, MD
Section Editors
Marc C Patterson, MD, FRACP
Leonard E Weisman, MD
Teresa K Duryea, MD
Deputy Editor
Carrie Armsby, MD, MPH


Neural tube defects (NTDs), are the most common congenital central nervous system anomaly, and are the cause of chronic disability of between 70,000 and 100,000 individuals in the United States. Myelomeningocele (spina bifida) is the most common NTD. It is characterized by a cleft in the vertebral column, with a corresponding defect in the skin so that the meninges and spinal cord are exposed. Patients with myelomeningocele may have weakness and absence of sensation affecting the lower extremities and bowel/bladder dysfunction, depending upon the level of the spinal lesion.

An overview of the management of myelomeningocele and its complications will be presented here. Occult spinal dysraphism is discussed separately. The pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, prenatal diagnosis, orthopedic management, and urologic management of myelomeningocele are also discussed separately:

(See "Closed spinal dysraphism: Pathogenesis and types".)

(See "Pathophysiology and clinical manifestations of myelomeningocele (spina bifida)".)

(See "Open neural tube defects: Risk factors, prenatal screening and diagnosis, and pregnancy management".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 29, 2017.
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