Type of Surgery
Last updated: 02/17/2009
There is no alternative to surgical repair. Risk of infection and damage to the spine and brain is high with an opening to the spine, so surgery is necessary to close the opening and drain the excess fluid that could put pressure on the brain. The...
Spina Bifida Association of America recommends that all women of childbearing age take 0.4 mg of folic acid daily, as this amount has been shown to decrease the likelihood of neural tube defects. Once a woman is aware of being pregnant, the critical first month of neural tube development has already past, and folic acid cannot cure any damage that has been done.
Meningocele repair is surgery to repair birth defects of the spine and spinal membranes. . For both meningoceles and myelomeningoceles, surgery consists of putting the spinal cord or nerve roots in their normal place and protecting them by closing the overlying meninges and skin.
A myelomeningocele should be closed within 24 hours of birth to prevent infection. A shunt is usually required to drain excess fluid. If the baby has fluid build-up in the brain, a shunt is usually put in when the myelomeningocele is repaired. Otherwise, most neurosurgeons wait about 3 days to place a shunt.
If hydrocephalus is present at birth and already causing problems, then the myelomeningocele repair and shunt are done at the same time.
After surgery, antibiotics are usually given to prevent infection.
The total number of neurosurgeries performed in 2006 was estimated at 2,171,195. Of these, 1,345,167 spine-related were performed, equating to nearly 62 percent of the total.
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