Type of Surgery
Last updated: 02/17/2009
According to the Spina Bifida Association of America, spina bifida is both the most common neural tube defect and the most common birth defect resulting in permanent disability. It is estimated that about 40% of Americans have spina bifida occulta....
However, some people who have it may have no symptoms and may therefore be unaware of their condition, so the percentage is an approximation. Meningocele and myelomeningocele are noticeable at birth and are paired together as spina bifida manifesta. Spina bifida manifesta occurs in about one in 1,000 births, with 4â€“5% being meningocele and 95â€“96% being myelomeningocele.
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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