Type of Surgery
Last updated: 02/17/2009
Surgical risks include infection and bleeding. Anesthesia risks include a reaction to the medications used, including difficulty breathing. During meningocele and myelomeningocele repair, there are additional risks of damage to the spinal column and...
infection of the spinal fluid surrounding the spine and brain. Damage to the neural tissue could result in paralysis, or loss of nerve function (for example, loss of bowel and bladder control). There may also be an increased risk of an urinary tract infection. An infection of the meninges is called meningitis. However, further damage would be expected if surgery were not done, and serious infection would be likely. As in all surgery, one must weigh the potential risks against the expected benefits.
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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